Iceland has chosen Halla Tómasdóttir, a businesswoman and investor as its new president. Tómasdóttir, aged 55, won the presidential race with 34.3% of the vote. It is an achievement in a competition where the top three contenders were all women. The election saw a voter turnout of 78.83%, the highest since 1996.

Iceland Elects Businesswoman Halla Tómasdóttir as New President

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Halla Tómasdóttir won the elections and received a vote percentage of 34.3%. the key competitors were Former Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir (25.2%), Environmental expert Halla Hrund Logadottir (15.5%).

The total voter turnout was 78.83%. The number of eligible voters were almost 270,000. The Presidential term start date is August 1, 2024.

Halla Tómasdóttir’s victory is notable not only for the close competition but also for the issues she highlighted during her campaign. Her platform addressed non-partisan politics and focused on critical societal discussions.

The impact of social media on the mental health of young people. The development of Iceland as a tourist destination. The role and regulation of artificial intelligence.

Halla Tómasdóttir rose during the financial crisis as the co-founder of Audur Capital, one of the few Icelandic firms that survived the economic upheaval.

Currently on leave as chief executive of The B Team, a non-profit organization co-founded by UK business tycoon Richard Branson, she has been an advocate for workplace diversity and sustainable business practices.

The B Team with offices in New York and London promotes business practices centered on humanity and the climate.

Halla Tómasdóttir will succeed President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, who chose not to seek re-election after completing two four-year terms. Jóhannesson was first elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020 with a 92% of the vote.

This election is historic for Iceland, a nation with a tradition of electing women to high office. In 1980, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became the world’s first democratically elected female president serving four terms.

The country’s history of female leadership was furthered by two female prime ministers in recent years, Johanna Sigurdardottir (2009-2013) and Katrin Jakobsdottir (2017-2024).

25.2%. Jakobsdottir, who resigned as prime minister in April to run for president was seen by many as a strong contender.

15.5%. Logadottir’s campaign was centered on environmental issues and sustainable development, areas of increasing importance in Icelandic politics.

The election featured a diverse field of 13 candidates including a political science professor, a comedian, and an Arctic and energy scholar. This range of candidates highlights the open and democratic nature of Iceland’s political system where any citizen gathering 1,500 signatures can run for office.

The President of Iceland holds a largely ceremonial position but plays a role in safeguarding the constitution and maintaining national unity. The president has the power to veto legislation and can call for referendums.

Halla Tómasdóttir’s presidency begins at a time of economic and environmental challenges for Iceland. Recent volcanic eruptions in the southwest town of Grindavík have caused damage, compounding economic pressures from high inflation and soaring interest rates.

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The new president’s ability to foster national unity and steer discussions on issues will be crucial in navigating these challenges.

Jakobsdottir congratulated Halla Tómasdóttir, expressing confidence in her capabilities as the new president. “Yes, I congratulate her on that and know she will be a good president,” she told RUV.

Analysts noted the increase in poll support for Tómasdóttir late in the campaign attributed to a base of support that initially included college-educated women and later expanded to younger voters and other demographics.

During her rally in the early hours of Sunday, Tomasdottir expressed her emotions, telling Morgunbladid, “I feel incredibly good. I know it’s not over until it’s over. So I’m also just trying to stay calm and breathe.”

The president of Iceland holds a largely ceremonial position in the parliamentary republic, acting as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity.

In Iceland, any citizen gathering 1,500 signatures can run for office. This year’s election saw a voter turnout of 78.83%, the highest in a presidential election since 1996.

Halla Tomasdottir’s election as the second woman to serve as Iceland’s president underlines the country’s progressive stance on gender equality.

Iceland with a population of 380,000 has a long tradition of electing women to high office. Vigdis Finnbogadottir’s election in 1980 set a precedent and the country has since seen two women serve as prime ministers.

Johanna Sigurdardottir led the government from 2009 to 2013, and Katrin Jakobsdottir who served as prime minister from 2017 led a broad coalition that ended a cycle of political crises.

Jakobsdottir faced criticism during her campaign with some observers suggesting her background as prime minister might work against her in a role meant to be above party politics.

Despite stepping down as prime minister to run for president her political affiliations may have influenced voter perceptions.

During her campaign celebration, Halla Tomasdottir expressed a desire to engage the public in discussions about society. “I think people want to discuss our society and take part in it,” she said. “I feel the energy of the people who have joined me on this journey.”

Gudni Johannesson, who secured a win against Halla Tomasdottir in the 2016 election announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election after two terms in office.

Johannesson has been praised for his tenure and expressed confidence in Halla Tomasdottir’s ability to fulfill the role of president. “Her message has obviously been well received by the voters,” he said.

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