Iceland Political System

According to, with capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland is a country located in Northern Europe with total population of 341,254.

Where is Iceland

State and politics


Iceland is a republic with parliamentary democracy. The Constitution of 1944 gives the President, appointed in general elections every four years, a strong position, but in practice it has most ceremonial functions. Independent cultural personalities have been chosen several times rather than politicians: archaeologist Kristján Eldjárn (1968–80) and theater director Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (1980–96). Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (1996–2016) was, however, a more traditional politician, who also sometimes showed that he was no stranger to exercising the powers conferred on the office by the Constitution. Icelandic parliamentarism has thus been supplemented by elements of presidential rule. In 2016, an independent intellectual, historian Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, to the President. See for Iceland sights, UNESCO, climate, and geography.

The legislative power lies with the Allting, whose 63 members are elected every four years in proportionate elections with universal suffrage for all Icelandic citizens over 18 years residing in Iceland. The country has since 1999 been divided into six constituencies, three in the metropolitan area and three for the rest of the country, with a mandate distribution that benefits the countryside. Everything was formerly divided into an upper and a lower section, but since 1991 they meet in a chamber. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how IS can stand for Iceland.

According to practice, the government, appointed by the president with eleven ministers, is dependent on the confidence of the majority majority. Ministers have considerable power to make decisions independently in their areas. When the Parliament is not assembled, the government has the opportunity to issue provisional laws through the President, which are subsequently subordinated to the Parliament.


Throughout the period of independence, politics has been dominated by a four-party system. The general bourgeois Independence Party (the ‘Independence Party ‘, with normally around 40 percent of the vote in the general elections) has held a strong position and often led coalition governments. It has increasingly evolved from conservatism to market liberalism. The Progressive Party (‘Progress Party’, with 15-25% of the vote) is ideologically center-liberal and has its foothold in the countryside. The Althýðuflokkurinn (the “Labor Party”, the Social Democrats, with 10-20 percent of the vote) have held a weaker position than the Scandinavian fraternity parties, which it was usually to the right; it was replaced in 2000 by the Alliance (see below).

As the fourth major party, there has long been a left-wing party under different names, from the 1956 Althýðubandalagið (“Folkalliansen”; the translation is accepted, but “the workers’ union” was more accurate; 15-20 percent of voter support). Ideologically it is close to Nordic social democracy, but among its members there have also been pronounced communists; today it is carried on by the green left (see below). From the 1980s onwards, breakout groups and new parties have taken a mandate, but the old parties have succeeded in recovering them with unexpected toughness.

Political life is not characterized by block politics, but rather by very pragmatic coalitions. In the past, parties often grouped along foreign policy lines, with the Independence Party and the Social Democrats as NATO-friendly and the People’s Alliance and many within the Progress Party on the opposite side.

Today, however, NATO accession is rarely questioned. In the approach to economic development, one can roughly speak of the same division, where the latter two parties stood more for fishing and agriculture and for the sparsely populated opposition to the big city, while the Independence Party and the Social Democrats spoke more for modernization, internationalization and big industry. On the other hand, sometimes the two purely bourgeois parties have been able to cooperate with the left. However, such simplifications do not say everything about the complicated Icelandic policy, where even for foreigners difficult-to-understand relationships and personal relationships mean a lot.

During the 1990s, the Independence Party dominated Iceland’s politics and ruled for a long time in a coalition with the Progress Party. In the 1999 elections, major changes occurred on the left side of party politics. The Social Democrats, the Women’s List (a left-wing women’s party that has been represented in everything since 1983) and the Folk Alliance joined forces in the Alliance Samfylkingin (the “Alliance”).

The alliance became in 2000 a social democratic party (name change in 2013 to Samfylkingin – jafnaðarmannaflokkur Íslands (‘Alliance – Iceland’s Social Democratic Party’), which took over from the three old. Critics on the left, mainly from the People’s Alliance, formed Vinstrihreyfing – grænt framboð (‘Left Movement – green list’ However, the bourgeois majority coalition between the Independence Party and the Progress Party remained in power, as well as after the 2003 elections, despite the success of the opposition..

In the autumn of 2008, the global financial crisis triggered an acute banking crisis in the country. The politicians were blamed for the financial difficulties and violent demonstrations in 2009 forced the government to resign. Former Prime Minister Geir Haarde (born 1951) was brought before the national court for his handling of the crisis, but was acquitted on all significant charges. A new government was formed by the Alliance, with Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir as Iceland’s first female prime minister, and the Left Green.

This government implemented a rigorous economic policy that helped Iceland overcome the crisis, but whose effects on health, welfare and living standards led to widespread dissatisfaction. At the 2013 general election, the government parties declined sharply. Two new dissatisfaction parties came into Everything, the bright future (‘bright future’) and Piratar (‘the Pirate Party’), both with a vague center-left imprint.

Progress Party leader Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who in the election campaign promised debt restructuring for households, formed a government coalition with the Independence Party, which in particular promised tax relief. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resigned as prime minister in April 2016 after it was revealed that his family had money in a tax haven and was replaced by party colleague Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson, who was forced to announce new elections.

In the October 2016 elections, a record number of parties entered the Parliament; In addition to the previous six, the party “reis ” (” Restoration “) also took the place, mainly breakers from the Independence Party with a more EU-friendly line. In the election, Independence Party got 29 percent, Left Green 16 percent, Pirate Party 15 percent, Progress Party 12 percent, Restoration 11 percent, Bright Future 7 percent and Social Democrats 6 percent of the vote.

Government formation was complicated, especially as in Iceland traditionally avoiding minority governments. In January 2017, however, the Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson was able to take over as leader of a right-to-center coalition together with Bright’s future and Restoration, with hardly a possible majority, a mandate in the Allting.

New elections were announced in 2017 when the party of Bright Future left the government coalition since Benediktsson’s party The Independence Party tried to hide a story about a sexual offender. With Bright’s future outburst from the government, the remaining constellation of Restoration and Independence Party lacks majority in Alltinget.

The election, which was held on October 28, means that eight parties took place in Allting, that is, another party in comparison with the 2016 election. The Independence Party remained the largest party with just over 25 percent, which was, however, the second worst result in the party’s history. The Left Green got 17 percent and the Social Democrats 12 percent. The newly formed Center Party (Miðflokkurinn), which was an outbreak of the Progress Party under the leadership of Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, received just under 11 percent. The Progress Party also received just under 11 percent. The Pirate Party received just over 9 percent and the newly formed People’s Party (Flokkur people’s; left-wing populist) got just under 7 percent. The Restoration Party got just under 7 percent. Bright future did not enter the Parliament.

In this new parliamentary position, the formation of government became complicated but still went faster than 2016. After negotiations on a large center-left coalition soon stranded, the established parties prioritized creating political stability.

Although the election campaign showed a clear contradiction between the parties on the left, who wanted to raise taxes and expand the public sector, and those on the right, who stood for lower taxes and more market economy, the result came to be a coalition on the whole political scale; The Independence Party, the Progress Party and the Left Green formed government.

The unusually large coalition agreement foresees a comprehensive build-up in health care, communications and education. The agreement includes investments in the environment with the goal that Iceland should be carbon neutral in 2040. The parties also agree on a skeptical attitude to EU membership.

The Prime Minister’s post did not go to the largest party but to the Left Green’s Katrín Jakobsdóttir. This is the first time an Icelandic government is led by the party on the far left. Two members of the Alliance in the Left Green have declared that they do not support the coalition.

Compare the History section.


The legal system in Iceland is closely related to Norwegian and Danish law, especially to the latter. It consists in most areas of relatively modern legislation, often designed according to Nordic co-operation or exemplified in other Nordic law. On a few points, however, 1281 years of Icelandic law still apply (Jónsbók).

The general courts judge in two instances, local courts and a supreme court, to which are added some special courts, such as a labor court and courts for maritime and commercial matters. The death penalty was abolished in 1928; the last execution took place in 1830.

Heads of State


1944-52 Sveinn Björnsson
1952-68 Ásgeir Ásgeirsson
1968-80 Kristján Eldjárn
1980-96 Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
1996-2016 Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
2016- Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Prime Ministers and Governments

1904-09 Hannes Hafstein (H)
1909-11 Björn Jónsson (Sj)
1911-12 Kristján Jónsson (Unpolitical)
1912-14 Hannes Hafstein (S)
1914-15 Sigurður Eggerz (Sj)
1915-17 Einar Arnórsson (Sj)
1917-20 Jón Magnússon (H, Sj, F)
1920-22 Jón Magnússon (H)
1922-23 Sigurður Eggerz (Sj)
1923-24 Sigurður Eggerz (Sj, F)
1924-26 Jón Magnússon (In)
1926-27 Jón Thorláksson (In)
1927-32 Tryggvi Thórhallsson (F)
1932-34 Ásgeir Ásgeirsson (F, Sj)
1934-38 Hermann Jónasson (F, A)
1938-39 Hermann Jónasson (F)
1939-42 Hermann Jónasson (F, Sj, A)
1942 Hermann Jónasson (F, Sj)
1942 Ólafur Thor (Sj)
1942-44 Björn Thórðarson (political)
1944-47 Olaf Thor (Sj, A, Sauce)
1947-49 Stefán Jóhann Stefánsson (A, Sj, F)
1949-50 Ólafur Thor (Sj)
1950-53 Steingrímur Steinthórsson (F, Sj)
1953-56 Ólafur Thor (Sj, F)
1956-58 Hermann Jónasson (F, A, Ab)
1958-59 Emil Jónsson (A)
1959-63 Ólafur Thor (Sj, A)
1963-70 Bjarni Benediktsson (Sj, A)
1970-71 Jóhann Hafstein (Sj, A)
1971-74 Ólafur Jóhannesson (F, A, SFV)
1974-78 Geir Hallgrímsson (Sj, F)
1978-79 Ólafur Jóhannesson (F, A, Ab)
1979-80 Benedikt Gröndal (A)
1980-83 Gunnar Thoroddsen (fraction of Sj, A, Ab)
1983-87 Steingrímur Hermansson (F, Sj)
1987-88 Thorsteinn Pálsson (Sj, F, A)
1988-89 Steingrímur Hermansson (F, A, Ab)
1989-91 Steingrímur Hermansson (F, A, Ab, B)
1991-95 David Oddsson (Sj, A)
1995-2004 Davíð Oddsson (Sj, F)
2004-06 Halldór Ásgrímsson (F, Sj)
2006-07 Geir Haarde (Sj, F)
2007-09 Geir Haarde (Sj, Sf)
2009-13 Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (Sf, VG)
2013-2016 Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (F, Sj)
2016 Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (F, Sj)
2017 Bjarni Benediktsson (Sj, BF, V)
2017- Katrín Jakobsdóttir (VG, Sj, F)

(In the years 1904-17 the government consisted of only one minister)


A: Althýðuflokkurinn (Socialdemokraterna)
Ltd Folk Alliance (Folkalliansen)
B: Citizens ‘Party (Citizens’ Party)
BF: Bright Future (Bright Future)
F: Progressive Party (Progress Party)
HRS: Home Party (Self-Government Party)
i: Conservative Party (Konservativa Party)
S: Union Party (Union Party)
sf: The Alliance
SFV Association of Liberal and Leftists (Liberal Left)
S: Independence Party (Independence Party)
Sós: Socialist Party (Socialist Party)
V: The tour (Restoration)
VG: Left Movement – Green Supply (Left Party – The Greens)