Iceland Leftist Gets Mandate to Explore Ruling Coalition

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(Bloomberg) -- Icelandic Left Green Movement leader Katrin Jakobsdottir has been given a mandate to explore a governing coalition from President Gudni Th. Johannesson.

The decision follows cross-party talks held in the wake of the October 28 snap election, in which no party gained a majority. The conservative Independence Party confirmed its status as the country’s biggest party, but with a reduced number of seats (16), while the Left Greens came second with 11 seats.

Jakobsdottir said she would be reaching out to the Social Democrats, the centrist Progressive Party and the non-aligned Pirate Party. Together, they control 32 seats in the 63-strong Althing (Iceland’s parliament) -- just enough to secure a majority.

"We are now working toward getting these four parties to form a coalition," Jakobsdottir said shortly after receiving the mandate at the president’s residence outside Reykjavik.

Outgoing Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson called the snap election after his center-right coalition collapsed over a pedophilia scandal, just one year after Iceland lost a previous prime minister to the Panama Papers scandal.

The last time round it took almost two months before a new government was formed. Jakobsdottir said Thursday she was optimistic a deal could be forged sooner.

"We are broadly on the same boat," although "everyone will need to give in on some issues," she said.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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