Europe

Iceland historian Johannesson wins presidential election

Gudni Johannesson (L) cuts a cake next to his wife Eliza Reid Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Mr Johannesson (L) was elected amid disenchantment with the political elite

Historian and political newcomer Gudni Johannesson has won Iceland's presidential election.

The final count showed 39% of Icelanders voted for him, putting him ahead of a former prime minister and central bank governor.

Mr Johannesson, 47, had told supporters he would try to be a unifying force.

The poll came amid anger at the elite, some of whom were alleged to hold offshore accounts in the Panama Papers tax evasion investigation.

The scandal forced the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson.

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Iceland's presidency is a largely ceremonial post.

However, during campaigning Mr Johannesson - who says he has never been a member of a political party - also called for a constitutional clause allowing citizen-initiated referendums over parliamentary bills.

He said this would ensure the nation always had the final say over the biggest issues affecting it.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Gudni Johannesson, pictured with two of his children, is an expert on political history

As the election took place, about 10% of the island's population was thought to be in France watching the country's footballers at Euro 2016.

Mr Johannesson said his first task as president would be to fly to France, to cheer on the team in their second-round match against England on Monday.

The Icelandic consulate in France flew ballot papers to the football team's hotel in Annecy so that the players could vote on Saturday.

However there were no such arrangements for Icelandic fans in France and that could mean a voter turnout of under 65%, low for the Nordic nation, local reports said.

Mr Johannesson is an expert on political history, diplomacy and the constitution, and has not said which political party he supports.

He says he is an ordinary father who likes to read, jog and play football and has also translated four books by US horror writer Stephen King.

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