Politics have become a fashionable topic. They’ve always been a part of the mankind that strongly affects our lives. We see politics on a regular basis in the news, hear about them at social gatherings and read about them on social networks. A short while ago Iceland was on everyone’s lips due to the economic and political crisis that the country suffered in 2008. This is a more recent event, but the political history of this Nordic country is not new. Iceland is home to the world’s oldest Parliament. Let’s learn a little bit more about the Icelandic government and its political system.
Iceland is a small, peaceful, quiet country. That’s why, when international news breaks, we’re all curious to learn more about what’s going on. When the economic, social and political impact of the Icelandic crisis jumped into the global public eye, how the country worked surprised a lot of people. What many did not know at the time was that this small island has a democratic and political background of great importance to Western society.
Iceland is a parliamentary republic with the classic division of powers: the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch. Legislative power is wielded by both the acting government and the Parliament, which has more than a millennium of history. The Icelandic parliament or Alþingi, to the surprise of many, is the oldest in the world. It was inaugurated in 930 AD in the current Þingvellir National Park, about 40 km (25 mi) from Reykjavik.
In the Alþingi, the most powerful men of the Viking age gathered in the form of an assembly. They made decisions about the future of the locality and they solved problems and family disputes. It was also here that the council held meetings on business issues, delegated responsibilities and proclaimed various legislative procedures.
Returning to the present, it was not until 1944 that Iceland would proclaim its independence from Denmark as a republic. The country would now have absolute control over its internal and international policies. The Alþingi or parliament is no longer in its original place but is located in the capital of Iceland: Reykjavik. The parliament was then to be divided into eight districts represented by a total of 63 members of a single chamber. Currently, there are six districts.
The Icelandic Government and Iceland’s Political System
The country holds elections every four years, and they can happen earlier in extraordinary cases. The minimum age to vote is 18. In Iceland, there are currently about eleven different political parties and the most popular are the center-right and liberal Independence party. There is also the left-wing party and Green Movement, abbreviated as VG. Perhaps one of the most famous political parties in Iceland, or at least most viral, is the Pirate Party. This doesn’t have either a left or right affiliation. It works under political syncretism or cross-spectrum politics. Its founder is Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who won 5% of the votes in the 2017 elections. Finally, Katrin Jakobsdóttir, the current Prime Minister of Iceland, is a member of VG.