Europe

Iceland election: Pirate Party looks to make gains

  • 29 October 2016
  • From the section Europe
Televised debate by Icelandic party leaders. 28 Oct 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Party leaders took part in a televised debate leading up to election day

Parliamentary elections are being held in Iceland, with an anti-establishment party set to make gains.

Polls show the Pirate Party could help topple the centre-right government and form a majority coalition with other opposition parties.

The early election was triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in April.

He stepped down in the wake of the leaked Panama Papers which revealed the offshore assets of high-profile people.

Polling stations across the island opened at 07:00 GMT and are due to close at 20:00 GMT, with first results expected shortly afterwards.

The Pirate Party, which was founded in 2012, has said it could be looking to form a coalition with three left-wing and centrist parties.

Iceland is currently governed by a coalition cabinet of the Independent and Progressive parties.

The Pirate Party has won support from many in the wake of Iceland's 2008 financial crisis and the Panama Papers' revelations earlier this year.

The party wants more political transparency, more freedom from copyright restrictions on the internet and more protection of citizens' data.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Pirates have no formal leader but many consider party founder Birgitta Jonsdottir as its de facto chief

The party also calls for free healthcare for all Icelanders and "active public participation and supervision of those in power".

Opponents, however, say the Pirate Party's lack of political experience could scare off investors and destabilise Iceland's recovering economy.

Recent polls indicate that the governing coalition of the Independence and Progressive parties stands to lose its current majority in Iceland's parliament, the Althing.

Observers say the Pirates could form a majority with opposition parties the Social Democratic Alliance, the Left-Green Movement and Bright Future.

The leaked Panama Papers - from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca - showed Mr Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore firm with his wife.

Mr Gunnlaugsson says he sold his shares to his wife and denies any wrongdoing.

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