Meet Birgitta Jónsdóttir: The Ex-WikiLeaks Volunteer Who Has Helped the Pirate Party Reshape Iceland
member of the Icelandic Parliament and co-founder of the country’s Pirate Party. She is also a poet, activist, web developer and a former WikiLeaks activist. And she is the chairperson of the International Modern Media Institution.
Chairwoman of the Left Green party, Katrin Jakobsdottir is meeting with the president Guðni Th. Johannesson today probably to give back the mandate to form a majority government after failed attempts these past days to form a five party majority with The Pirates, the Bright Future, Resurrection and the Social Democratic Alliance. This is the first time in Iceland’s history this happens and it would have been the first time in the countries history that there would have been an all left five party government majority in parliament.
The situation after the 2016 general election is a complicated one and it seems to be proofing next to impossible to form a clear majority. The conservative Independence party received 29,1% and 21 seats in in parliament. The Left Green 15,8% and 10 seats, Pirates got 14,4 % and 10 seats. The Progressive party received 5% and 8 seats, loosing 11 seats in parliament from the last elections. Resurrection received 10,4 % of the vote and 7 seats, a newly formed party and first time in parliament. Bright Future had 7,2% and 4 seats loosing two and the Social Democratic Alliance received 5,8% and 3 seats, loosing six seats.
The first mandate went to chairmen of the Independence party; Bjarni Benediksson and his attempted to form a government with the Bright Future and Resurrection failed and he returned the mandate. The party next in line, the Left Green party then received the mandate and Katrín Jakobsdottir lead the deliberations of a five party majority, which now seems to have failed. It is yet unclear what will be the next step, a press conference is to be held at Bessastadir (the presidential residence) following the meeting between Jakobsdottir and the president.
“Shame on you. Shame on you,” Jónsdóttir then said. “Whistleblowers, who blow the whistle on corrupt governments and war crimes are not traitors. Shame on you!”
1) No party has the simple majority needed to form a government because none of them received the needed 32 out of 63 seats in the Althingi (Icelandic Parliament). Thus all elected parties will have to negotiate. PPIS announced, two days before the election, the results of negotiations with the Left-Green Movement, Bright Future and the Social Democratic Alliance (totaling 27 seats between the 4 parties). The Independence and Progressive Party (the old government coalition) gathered 29 seats and thus can’t form a majority government. Viðreisn (Reform), which is a new party, gained 7 seats and is the “kingmaker” of the election. The leader of Reform has stated that his party will not co-operate with the outgoing government.
2) The resounding failure of the polls to accurately portray the voting intention of Icelanders. Not one poll predicted the results of the elections. They forecast that the Independence Party would rank in 1st place but no poll said that the Pirates would finally be third in votes. Instead all polls anticipated they would surely be second.
3) 48% of the Althingi consisted of women MPs making it the most gender equal parliament ever. The Icelandic parliament has 30/63 women MPs, a unique record in the history of Iceland and the world’s parliamentary history. The MPs of PPIS are equal with five men and five women.
4) The turnout of the voters was low for Icelandic standards. It was below 80% . It could have been even higher if the elections were held in April, when the weather in Iceland is better.
The final resultsInvalid/blank votes 5,574
Registered voters 246,515
Independence Party (54,990) 29.00% 21 seats
Left-Green Movement (30,166) 15.91% 10 seats
Pirate Party (27,449) 14.48% 10 seats
Progressive Party (21,791) 11.49% 8 seats
Reform (19,870) 10.48% 7 seats
Bright Future (13,578) 7.16% 4 seats
Social Democratic Alliance (10,893) 5.74% 3 seats
People’s Party (6,707) 3.54 % No seats
Dawn (3,275) 1.7% No seats
People’s Front of Iceland (575) 0.30% No seats
Icelandic National Front (303) 0.16% No seats
Humanist Party (33) 0.02% No seats
Any member of Iceland’s Pirate Party who is made a minister in a future government would have to surrender their position as a Member of Parliament, leading Pirate Birgitta Jónsdóttir confirms.
The Pirate Party is currently in talks with four other parties with a view to setting up a new broad-church coalition to govern Iceland, and they could be in line for at least one ministerial position if these talks are successful.
Under the current system, government ministers remain MPs while discharging their ministerial duties – something which the Pirate Party has opposed in its manifesto.
“This is something that our party is focused on for itself, and we will not demand that other parties in a hypothetical coalition follow suit,” says Jónsdóttir. “If a Pirate MP is given a ministerial post, it is clear that they will have to stand down as an MP.”
Party members will, however, be given the opportunity to review this policy, and a final stance will be taken should the current opposition parties succeed in forming a government and a coalition agreement is reached.
Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has rejected the suggestion that Iceland is facing a crisis of goverment, despite two failed attempts at forming a working majority.
Speaking at a press conference just now at the presidential residence at Bessastaðir, President Jóhannesson told journalists that, following the failure of two successive party leaders to cobble together a coalition commanding a parliamentary majority, he does not for the time being intend to give his official mandate a third time.
MORE: Second leader gives up on forming Iceland government
Instead, he has spoken with the leaders of all political parties about the current situation and now places in their collective hands the responsibility of negotiating a new government for Iceland.
Jóhannesson was cautiously upbeat about the possibility of Iceland’s political parties succeeding over the next few days in clarifying the current situation. It has now been almost a month since Icelanders went to the polls and there is no new government in sight.
“Parliament needs to be convened as soon as possible, and I hope that a new government will be in place when that happens,” he said.
Election 2016 Results
Invalid/blank votes 5,574
In brief | Pirate Party
What: A pro-free speech, anti-authoritarian political party in Iceland
Founders: A group of anarchists, hackers and internet-freedom activists
Leader: The party eschews formal leaders but Birgitta Jonsdottir is the most senior of three Pirate lawmakers in Iceland’s parliament
“I would like everybody in Iceland to find the pirate within, because the pirate within really represents change and a collective vision for the future.”
- Birgitta Jonsdottir, Pirate Party lawmaker