2021-09-25 23:48:42 Icelanders Vote in Volatile Election With Climate in Mind

Icelanders Vote in Volatile Election With Climate in Mind

REYKJAVIK, ISLAND (AP) — Icelanders went to the polls on Saturday in a general election dominated by climate change, with an unprecedented number of political parties expected to gain parliamentary seats.

According to polls, there will be no clear winner, resulting in complex negotiations to form a coalition government.

A record nine parties may cross the 5% threshold required to gain seats in Iceland’s parliament, the Althing. The Socialist Party, for example, promises to shorten the workweek and nationalize Iceland’s fishing industry.

One-fifth of eligible voters have already cast absentee ballots, indicating a high turnout.

Climate change is a top concern among Icelanders, a glacier-studded volcanic island nation in the North Atlantic with a population of about 350,000 people.

An unusually warm summer by Icelandic standards — 59 days with temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit — and receding glaciers have pushed global warming to the top of the political agenda.

Polls show that left-wing parties are receiving a lot of support for promising to cut carbon emissions even more than Iceland has already committed to under the Paris climate agreement. The country has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2040, more than a decade ahead of most other European countries.

The current government is a coalition of three political parties ranging from the left to the center-right, led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir of the Left Green Party. It was founded in 2017 as a result of years of political unrest.

Jakobsdottir remains a popular prime minister, but polls indicate that her party may fare poorly, effectively ending the coalition.

“The country is facing big decisions as we turn away from the pandemic,” Jakobsdottir said on Friday night during televised debates in which party leaders vowed to end Iceland’s reliance on oil and many wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy.

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Icelanders Vote in Volatile Election With Climate in Mind