Iceland opposition poised to win general election

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2013 at 1:38 am •  Published: April 28, 2013
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Voters "were introduced to a plan that would bring us quicker out of the crisis than has been the reality," said Benediktsson.

"People are now looking forward and asking themselves... what kind of a plan is the most likely one to bring more growth, more job creation, to close the budget deficit, and have Iceland grow into the future?," he said.

Whatever the final outcome, 70-year-old outgoing Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir has said she will retire from politics after the election. Iceland's first female — and first openly gay — prime minister, she was elected as head of a center-left alliance in 2009 on a wave of public disgust at the previous administration.

Since then, Iceland has in many ways made a strong recovery. Unemployment has fallen and the economy is growing.

But inflation remains naggingly high, and many Icelanders still struggle to repay home and car loans they took out — often in foreign currencies whose value soared after the crash — in the years of easy credit.

Some accuse the government of caving in to international pressure to compensate Britain and the Netherlands for their citizens' lost deposits in the failed online bank Icesave. Icelanders have twice rejected repayment deals agreed to by Sigurdardottir's government.

"The government that many people thought was cleaning up the mess is getting severely punished for the last four years," said journalist and political analyst Egill Helgason. "I don't know whether they deserve it. In many ways I think not. But this is politics — cruel."

Some voters say the outgoing government did as good a job as could be expected.

"We cannot forget that everything collapsed here and still health care, schools and society in general functions better than in most countries", said Jon Gunnar Bjornsson, an operations manager of one of Iceland's new, post-crisis banks.

"We still retain ownership of hospitals, the road system and the utility companies. I'm not sure we could have expected more.

"But still people are unhappy and want someone to take their debt away and shower them with golden fairy dust."

Full results are expected early Sunday.

___

Lawless reported from London. Associated Press writer David Mac Dougall in Reykjavik contributed to this report.

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