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Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the leader of the Left Green Movement will be the next Prime Minister of Iceland, leading a Grand Coalition with the conservative Independence Party and the centrist Progress Party. Yesterday the National Committees of the three parties voted to approve the policy statement of the coalition. The policy statement and composition of the cabinet are announced at a press conference today.
The Left Greens and the Independence Party are the two largest parties in parliament as well as being the two parties which have historically been furthest apart politically. The Left Greens, and it's political predecessors, have not joined the conservatives in government since 1947 when the last Grand Coalition was formed. The centrist Progress Party, on the other hand, has a long history of working with parties on either side of the political center.
A detailed policy agreement
The policy statement of the three parties, which was unveiled today, is unusually detailed. It includes more than 100 specific action points and policies the parties have agreed to enact during the next 4 years.
Political analysts note that while it shows clear signs that all three parties have had to make concessions, it seems to include far more of the policy planks of the Left Greens than those of the Independence or Progress parties. This includes a very ambitious policy to battle climate change and the formation of a National Park encompassing the Central Highlands.
Other issues the three parties have agreed upon is to raise carbon taxes and green taxes, as well as a higher capital gains tax. The government will raise capital gains taxes from 20% to 22%. Taxes on low and middle income families will be lowered and steps taken to fight poverty.
Investment in infrastructure
At the press conference Katrín said that the central issue in the policy statement, and the most important task facing the new government, was infrastructure investment. This includes both physical and social infrastructure, she pointed out. In addition to spending on the upkeep of roads and bridges, the electrical transmission system and other vital physical infrastructure, spending on healthcare and education will be increased and the construction of a new National Hospital will begin next summer.
The meetings of the National Committees of the three parties, which approved the policy statement yesterday, reveals that there is significantly more unity among the members of the Independence and Progress Party than the Left Greens over the new government. The National Committees of the Independence and Progress Party voted to approve the policy statement unanimously, while 16% of the delegates of the Left Greens rejected it. This includes two MPs for the Left Greens, who said that they could not support a government which includes the conservatives, on principle, citing the many scandals the Independence Party and its leadership have been embroiled in in recent years.
The composition of the cabinet
The Left Green Movement will get three cabinet posts in the new coalition. In addition to the Prime Minister the Left Greens will head the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment. The Speaker of Parliament will also be from the Left Greens.
The conservative Independence Party will get five cabinet posts. The Ministry of Finance, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The centrist Progress Party will get three cabinet posts, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services.
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