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Left Greens dominate latest poll: Promise infrastructure investment, higher taxes on wealthy

By Staff

  • Uncertainty Bjarni Benediktsson, of the Conservative Independence Party (left) and Katrín Jakobsdóttir of the Left Greens (right) might have a hard time forming strong center-right or center-left coalitons. Photo/Anton.

Two polls released today, Wednesday, show that the Left Green movement retains its position as the largest political party in Iceland. A Fréttablaðið poll finds that 29.9% of voters say they support the Left Greens, while only 22.2% say they support the conservative Independence party. The two polar extremes of the spectrum dominate the field, as the poll finds all other parties enjoy the support of less than 10% of voters. 

Read more: Analysis: Latest polls confirm Left Greens are largest party in lead-up to snap elections

A second poll which was released today, conducted by the polling firm MMR, also shows the Left Greens as the largest party, although with only the narrowest of margins. The MMR poll shows the Left Greens with 21.8%, compared to the Independence party, which polls at 21.1%. Both show that the current junior members of the conservative led coalition government, the two small centrist parties Restoration and Bright Future, would fail to clear the 5% threshold to get representation in parliament.

Social spending and higher taxes on wealthy

 

Elections 2017, October 11 Poll
The Fréttablaðið poll The make-up of parliament if elections were held today Photo/Fréttablaðið-Iceland Mag

The polls were taken after the party convention of the Left Greens where the party unveiled its election platform. The party promises significant spending increases the physical and social infrastructure of Iceland, investing in roads as well as increasing spending on social welfare, healthcare, education and law enforcement.

The party promises that this spending will not be financed with tax cuts on low- and middle-income families, but rather by shifting the tax burden toward the wealthy, raising taxes on corporations, especially the fishing industry, closing tax loopholes and cracking down on tax evasion. 

A left-wing coalition might be difficult to form

While both polls show the Left Greens with an extremely strong position, they also show that forming a left-wing government is far from a foregone conclusion. The Left Greens need to assemble a solid parliamentary majority if they hope to swing the political pendulum from the right to the left. The Fréttablaðið poll suggests the Left Greens, could form a coalition government with the anti-establishment Pirate Party (8.5%) and the Social Democratic Alliance (8.3%). The three parties would only have a majority of 1 vote in parliament, as the Left Greens would get 21 MPs, the Pirates 6 and the Social Democrats 5.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the leader of the Left Greens, is expected to want a stronger majority. The most likely way to strengthen a left-wing coalition would be to get the centrist Progress Party on board. Such a four party center-left government would enjoy a solid 37-26 majority in parliament. 

A center-right coalition even more difficult to form

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Bjarni Benediktsson

Leaders of the two towers Katrín Jakobsdóttir (left) and Bjarni Benediktsson (right). Photo/Visir.is

Bjarni Benediktsson, the chairman of the conservative Independence Party would similarly be faced with an even harder task if he were to try and form a right-wing government. Even if the Independence Party, with its 16 MPs, would get the support of the centrist Progress Party (5 MPs), as well as the two new right-wing populist parties, the People's Party, (4 MPs) and the Center Party (5 MPs), a center-right coalition would only have 31 MPs out of 63.

Even if these four parties to do slightly better in the October 28 elections than the Fréttablaðið poll suggests, a four party center-right government might be difficult to form, as it would require the Progress Party and the Center Party to come together. The Center Party was founded by the former chairman of the Progress Party, the disgraced former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who resigned in the fallout of the Panama Papers. There is significant bad blood between Sigmundur and the current chairman of the Progress Party. 

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