Iceland voters go to polls after scandals

By Allen Cone  |  Oct. 28, 2017 at 10:15 AM
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Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Iceland voters went to the polls Saturday for third time in four years amid scandals and a booming economy after an economic crisis.

About 245,000 people in the North Atlantic nation are eligible to vote for 63 Parliament members from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In a Gallup poll, voters back the Independence Party with 25.3 percent compared with 17.3 percent for the Left Greens and 15.5 percent for the Social Democrats.

A coalition collapsed after nine months because the father of Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson of the Independence Party -- Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson -- vouched for a convicted child molester. In the Icelandic system, convicts have certain civil rights restored if three letters of recommendation are provided.

A year ago, then-Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned after the leaking of the Panama Papers showed he owned an offshore company with his wife and hadn't declared it.

Gunnlaugsson of the new Center Party has denied wrongdoing.

In 2013, the center-right Independence Party regained control of government from the center-left.

Since 1980, the Independence Party has been part of every ruling coalition except during the economic crisis in 2009-13.

The Left-Green movement is led by 41-year-old Katrín Jakobsdottir.

The Bright Future Party quit the three-party coalition over the "serious breach of trust."

Meanwhile, the economy recovered with a booming tourism industry -- the country's biggest export. In 2016, it had a 7.4 percent growth rate.

"There is still a lot of distrust in politics," said Ottarr Proppe, health minister and leader of Bright Future Party, told The New York Times. He said voters are seeking "something new, something different."

The Parliament, called the Alþingi, was established in 930 AD.

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