Iceland President re-elected with 92% of vote

Iceland President Gudni Johannesson (right) and his wife, Ms Eliza Reid, arriving at a hotel in the Reykjavik on June 27, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

REYKJAVIK (AFP) - Iceland's President Gudni Johannesson has been re-elected with a whopping 92 per cent of the vote, according to final results released on Sunday (June 28).

The former history professor won his second four-year term in the largely symbolic position in Saturday's vote, the second election held by a European country after coronavirus lockdowns were lifted.

Since suffering spectacular bank failures in 2008, the volcanic North Atlantic island of 365,000 inhabitants has recovered some economic and political stability, which worked in the 52-year-old independent's favour.

The final results showed he took 92.2 per cent of the 168,821 votes cast, crushing rightwing challenger Gudmundur Franklin Jonsson.

"I am honoured and proud," the President told AFP in Reykjavik on election night. "This result of this election is, to me, proof of the fact that my fellow Icelanders... have approved of how I have approached this office."

The dominant win had been predicted by opinion polls, which had shown the president winning between 90 to 94 per cent.

It is the second-highest margin of victory in the history of Iceland's presidential elections.

Ms Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as head of state, holds the record, winning re-election in 1988 with 94.6 per cent of the vote.

In this parliamentary republic, the president is largely symbolic, but he or she does have the power to veto legislation or submit it to a referendum.

There are no term limits - Mr Johannesson's predecessor, Mr Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, served for five terms.

Turnout for Saturday's vote was 66.9 per cent, dropping from 75.7 per cent during Mr Johannesson's first election victory in 2016, when he became the country's youngest president since independence in 1944.

Challenger Mr Jonsson is a former Wall Street broker close to Icelandic nationalists and a vocal fan of US President Donald Trump.

He campaigned on wanting Iceland's president to play a more active role by exercising the right to veto legislation campaigns, but struggled to gain traction with voters.

"I send my congratulations to Gudni and his family," Mr Jonsson told public broadcaster RUV.

The coronavirus pandemic had not been expected to affect voting, as the country has been only mildly infected. It has reported 10 deaths, and currently has around 11 active cases.

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