Analysis: Left Greens dominate polls. 46% want leader of Left Greens as next Prime Minister
A new poll confirms a massive swing to the left as parliamentary elections are just a month away. The poll, conducted by the University of Iceland for the local newspaper Morgunblaðið shows that 30% say they will vote for the Left Green movement in the October 28 elections.
Even more people would like to see the party lead a coalition government: 46% say they would prefer Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the chairman of the party, as the next prime minister. Only 24% would like the current PM, the chairman of the conservative Independence Party, to continue as the head of government.
Pardon Gate and Panama Papers.
The early elections were called after Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, the chairman of the Independence Party, resigned when the government collapsed amidst criticism over his handling of a scandal and cover-up involving his father, one of the wealthiest people in Iceland, Benedikt Sveinsson. Benedikt had sent a letter to the Ministry of the Interior, recommending the pardoning of one of Iceland's most notorious child molesters. Bjarni and the Minister of the Interior kept the letter secret from parliament and the public.
While Bjarni and the Minister of the Interior, Sigríður Á Andersen, maintain they did nothing wrong, the scandal is widely seen as only the latest example of corrupt practices, lack of transparency and nepotism which many believe characterized Icelandic politics in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crash. To many voters on the center and left the conservative Independence has come to symbolize this corruption. Bjarni and his father were both in the Panama Papers which brought down the Icelandic government in 2016.
Voters move to the left
The new poll shows that voters are looking to punish the conservatives. According to the poll 30% of voters would cast their ballots for the Left Green Movement, up from 15.9% in the 2016 elections. This would deliver the party 22 MPs, up from 10 today. The Left Green Movement would be by far the largest party in Parliament. The conservative Independence Party, which has traditionally been the largest party in Iceland, enjoys the support of 23%, a drop of 6 percentage points since last elections. The Independence Party would receive 15 MPs, losing six.
The poll also shows a significant shift to the left from the last poll, a Stöð 2/Vísir/Fréttablaðið poll taken last week. The Morgunblaðið poll shows the Left Greens doing significantly better (30% as compared to 23%) while the Pirate Party does slightly worse. The Morgunblaðið poll shows the Pirate Party enjoying the support of 10% as compared to 13.7%.
At the same time however, the far-right populist People's Party also does worse in the Morgunblaðið poll, with 9% as compared to 11%.
Voters want Left Green to lead government
The poll reveals that 46% would like Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the chairwoman of the Left Greens to become the next Prime Minister. Only 24% would like to see Bjarni Benediktsson as Prime Minister, and 10% said they prefer the chairman of the center-right Progress Party heading a coalition government.
The poll shows women are far more likely to support the Left Greens than men. Young voters are also more likely to want the Left Greens in government than older voters. 54-55% of voters aged 18-44 year want Katrín to become Prime Minister, compared to 38% of those older than 60. Only 17% of younger voters prefer Bjarni Benediktsson as Prime Minister.
59% of women and 34% of men prefer Katrín, while 29% of men and 18% of women prefer Bjarni Benediktsson.
87% of voters say they are very likely to vote on October 28.
How the poll would translate to parliamentary power
A total of seven parties would be elected to parliament (2016 election results are in parenthesis):
Conservative Independence Party: 23% and 15 MPs -- (down from 29% and 21 MPs)
Left-Green Movement: 30% and 22 MPs -- (up from 15.9% and 10 MPs)
Anti-establishment Pirate Party: 10% and 6 MPs -- (down from 14.5% and 10 MPs)
Populist People's Party: 9% and 5 MPs -- (up from 3.5% and no MPs)
Social Democratic Alliance: 8% and 3 MPs -- (no change from 5.7% and 3 MPs)
Center-right Progress Party: 10% and 7 MPs -- (down from 11.5% and 8 MPs)
Centrist Bright Future: 3% which is below the 5% threshold to get MPs elected to parliament. The party had received 7.2% and 4 MPs in the 2016 elections.
Liberal center-right Restoration: 6% and 3 MPs -- (down from 10.5% and 7 MPs)
The field keeps growing
The political landscape could change even further, as a new political party was announced over the weekend. The former chairman of the Progress Party, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson who was forced out as Prime Minister in 2016, as the highest profile victim of the Panama Papers, announced on Sunday that he was leaving the Progress Party to join a newly formed Cooperation Party.
The new Cooperation Party was founded last week by Björn Ingi Hrafnsson, a former media mogul with close ties to Sigmundur Davíð and the Progress Party. Björn Ingi has told media that the party would be a pragmatic center-right party which would be willing to work either to the left or right.
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