Political newcomer elected Iceland president amid football fever

  • AFP , Reykjavik
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2016 13:29 IST
Political newcomer Gudni Johannesson was trailed by businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir, also non-partisan, who took 29.4 percent of votes. (AFP)

Political newcomer Gudni Johannesson claimed victory in Iceland’s presidential election after riding a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, though the vote was eclipsed by the country’s eagerly-anticipated and historic Euro football match.

“All the votes have not been counted, but I think we have won,” Johannesson told supporters. With 36 percent of ballots counted, he was credited with 38.6 percent of votes.

The victory was especially sweet for Johannesson -- a history professor and political commentator who has never held public office and has no party affiliation -- as he celebrated his 48th birthday Sunday.

He was trailed by businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir, also non-partisan, who took 29.4 percent of votes.

David Oddsson, a former conservative prime minister and central bank governor who had been Johannesson’s closest rival throughout most of the campaign, garnered just 13 percent of votes.

Johannesson only decided to run for the presidency after the so-called Panama Papers leak in April which detailed offshore accounts and implicated several senior Icelandic politicians, including the prime minister who was forced to resign.

Throughout the campaign, Johannesson emphasised his non-partisan, independent vision of the presidency, appealing to voters with his calm nature and consensus-oriented approach.

He vowed to restore their faith in the political system after years of public anger toward politicians for miring the country in scandals and financial woes.

The president in Iceland holds a largely ceremonial position, acting as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity, and more important legislative elections are due in the autumn.

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