Executive Summary

Renewed government
mandate; shifting
balance of seats
In the parliamentary election in September 2021, the cabinet coalition of the Left-Green Movement, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, which has been in office since 2017, won a renewed mandate and remained in office, reshuffling some ministries among the coalition partners. In the 2021 election, eight parties won seats in parliament: the Independence Party won 24.4% of the vote and 16 seats, the Progressive Party won 17.3% and 13 seats, the Left-Green Movement won 12.6% and eight seats, the Social Democratic Party won 9.9% and six seats, the People’s Party won 8.8% and six seats, the Pirate Party won 8.6% and six seats, Regeneration won 8.3% and five seats, and the Center Party won 5.4% and three seats. The Socialist Party, running for the first time, won 4.1% of the vote, falling short of the 5% threshold needed to win a seat. The 2017–2021 coalition gained two seats compared with 2017, winning a total of 37 out of 63 seats. One elected member of the Center Party switched to the Independence Party immediately after the election, which increased the number of coalition seats to 38, against 25 for the opposition. The Progressive Party was the winner of the election, gaining five seats. Meanwhile, the Center Party, which broke away from the Progressives in 2016, lost four seats, for a combined gain of one seat from 2017 to 2021. The other two coalition partners lost support. The Independence Party held on to its 16 seats, despite its share of the vote decreasing by one percentage point, and the Left-Greens lost three seats.
Complaints filed
over vote counting
After a recount redistributed five of parliament’s 63 seats following the 2021 election, several candidates filed charges against the election board in the northwest constituency. The plaintiffs argued that the election board had failed to seal the votes after completing its initial count and had left them unattended. The preparatory Credentials Committee was subsequently established to investigate these claims. Following weeks of discussions, the committee submitted its findings to parliament with the recommendation that the recount should stand. Parliament concurred. Vocal demands for a recount in the northwest constituency or in all six constituencies, filed in formal complaints to parliament, went unheeded. Several complaints have been filed with the European Court of Human Rights.
Rising concerns over democracy, corruption
Freedom House no longer categorizes Iceland as a full-fledged democracy. Iceland’s democracy score was 100 in 2016, but dropped in stages to 94 in 2021. Likewise, Transparency International has reduced Iceland’s Corruption Perceptions Index score from 82 in 2012 to 74 in 2021, leaving the country well behind the other Nordic countries with respect to honesty and democracy. These results suggest a decline in Iceland’s social capital. In the seventh wave of the World Values Survey taken in 2017–2020, 63% of Icelandic respondents stated that they had little to no confidence in parliament and 67% stated that they had little to no confidence in the government.
Good COVID-19
Iceland did well in the battle against COVID-19. At the end of 2021, the number of deaths attributed to the pandemic was 39 in a population of 370,000, corresponding to 105 deaths per million inhabitants, which places Iceland 163rd among the 224 countries on the list compiled by Worldometers.
Growing economic
Meanwhile, partly due to the pandemic, and partly due to lax and unfocused economic policies in response to the pandemic, inflation, unemployment and public debt rose significantly during the pandemic. The extent to which the economic deterioration proves to be transitory remains to be seen.
Freedom House (2021), “Freedom in the World 2021, Iceland Profile.“ Accessed 7 January 2022.

Gylfason, Thorvaldur (2019), “Ten Years After: Iceland’s Unfinished Business,” in Robert Z. Aliber and Gylfi Zoega (eds.), The 2008 Global Financial Crisis in Retrospect, Palgrave.

Hardarson, Olafur Th. (2021). Government coalition survives in Iceland – for the first time since the bank crash of 2008. In: Accessed 7 January 2022.

Iceland Review (2021). “Election Certificates Confirmed in All Constituencies.” Accessed 7 January 2022.

World Values Survey (2022). Accessed 8 February 2022. Accessed 7 January 2022.
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