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Political System in Iceland


Iceland is a republic with a written constitution and a parliamentary form of government.

The Icelandic constitution is very similar to the Danish constitution and some articles have even been copied and translated over to Icelandic. According to the Constitution of Iceland the Icelandic Parliament and the President jointly exercise legislative power in the country.


All legislation passed by the Parliament must receive the consent of the President before it becomes law.

The judiciary is entrusted with judicial power and according to the Constitution, the President holds the supreme executive power, but it is in fact the cabinet that holds the supreme executive power.

Ministers who exercise the powers ascribed to the President in the Constitution.

The Constitution of the Republic of Iceland and its tradition of parliamentary rule reflect the assumption that the power of the State originates with the people.

Government in Iceland

Iceland has a parliamentary form of government. The President and the leaders of the parties discuss which government is possible.

The result is given to the parties for approval. The head of the Government is the Prime Minister. The cabinet stays in power until the next general election or a new government is formed. The ministers sit in the Parliament and every minister has a responsibility for his area.

The Independence Party (IP) and the Social Democrats (SD) formed a centre-right coalition after the general elections in May 2007.

In Jan. 2009 after the collapse of the economy and the following political turmoil the Social Democrats and the Left Greens formed a centre-left coalition goverment.

Prime Minister is Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Chairman of thr SD, and Minister of Finance is Steingrímur Sigfússon, chairman of the LG. In the 2007 general election, seats were won by the IP (25), SD (18), Left Greens (9), Progressive Partý (7) and Liberals (4).

The President of Iceland

The President is elected by direct popular vote for a term of four years, with no term limit. The Constitution gives the president plenty of power, but in reality, he has a more representative role.

This tradition has been established for a long time since the president is the successor of the Danish king, who has had a more representative role as well. The president is supposed to be party-neutral. It lies in his responsibility to build the government.

The President today is Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. He has been in office since 1996 and was re-elected for his third term 1st august 2004.

He is a former Minister of Finance and was a professor of political science at the University of Iceland and a member of the Icelandic parliament before he was elected president.

The Icelandic Parliament

The Icelandic Parliament is called Althingi and is one of the oldest parliaments in Europe (established in 930). The Parliament is composed of 63 delegates. The members have parliamentary immunity and swear allegiance to the Constitution.

The Parliament convenes on October 1 each year, commencing in each instance a new legislative session. The role of parliament is generally viewed as being to monitor the executive branch, both the government (e.g. by means of questions to ministers), and the administration as a whole.

Electoral System in Iceland

All Icelandic citizens 18 years of age and older are entitled to vote.

The Parliament is elected by secret ballot on the basis of proportional representation for four years.

The country is divided into six constituencies and each constituency has nine constituency seats in parliament, awarded on the basis of the outcome of voting in that constituency.

The additional nine seats (referred to as “equalization seats”) are distributed to constituencies and allocated to political parties so that the parliamentary representation of each will reflect as closely as possible the total votes it received.

Only parties receiving at least 5% of valid votes cast can be allocated equalization seats.