Iceland elects first female-majority European parliament

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Iceland elected a female-majority parliament, a landmark for gender equality in the North Atlantic island nation, in a vote that saw centrist parties achieve the lowest gains more important.

After all the votes were counted on Sunday, the candidates held 33 seats in the 63-seat Icelandic parliament, the Althing. The three parties in the outgoing coalition government led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir won a total of 37 seats in Saturday’s vote, two more than in the last election, and appeared likely to remain in power.

The election makes Iceland the only country in Europe, and one of the few in the world, with a majority of women legislators. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda is the world leader with 61% of women in its Chamber of Deputies, Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico just exceeding the 50% mark. Globally, the organization says just over a quarter of lawmakers are women.

The milestone for women comes despite a poor result for the left-wing parties, where women candidates are more often in the lead.

Politics professor Silja Bara Omarsdottir said the gender quotas put in place by left-wing parties over the past decade had succeeded in setting a new standard in the Icelandic political spectrum.

“It is no longer acceptable to ignore gender equality when selecting candidates,” she said.

Opinion polls had suggested a victory for left-wing parties in the unpredictable election, which saw 10 parties competing for seats. But the center-right Independence Party won the largest share of the vote, winning 16 seats, including seven held by women. The centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest win, winning 13 seats, five more than last time.

Prior to the elections, the two parties formed Iceland’s tripartite coalition government, along with Jakobsdottir’s left-wing Green Party. His party lost several seats, but retained eight, beating polls’ forecasts.

The three ruling parties have not announced whether they will work together for another term, but given strong voter support, it seems likely. It will take days, if not weeks, for a new government to be formed and announced.

Climate change had been high on the electoral agenda in Iceland, a volcanic island nation dotted with glaciers of about 350,000 people in the North Atlantic. An unusually hot summer by Icelandic standards – with 59 days of temperatures above 20 ° C (68 ° F) – and shrinking glaciers helped push global warming up the political agenda.

But that doesn’t appear to have translated into increased support for any of the four left-wing parties that campaigned to cut carbon emissions more than what Iceland pledged under the ‘Paris Climate Agreement.

Among the new MPs are the oldest and youngest lawmakers to ever sit in Iceland: Tomas Tomasson, hamburger co-owner, 72, and Lenya Run Karim, law student, 21, daughter of Kurdish immigrants from the anti-establishment Pirate Party.

“I want to improve the Icelandic treatment of refugees and asylum seekers,” she told The Associated Press, pledging to stand up for young people in parliament. “Our ideas need to be heard more. “


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