Iceland's presidential vote closer than expected

Results in Iceland's presidential elections were closer than expected as the first ballots were counted in a vote that had been eclipsed by a national fervour surrounding the Icelandic football team's success in the Euro 2016.

Independent candidate Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson led with 38.2 per cent of the vote to nearest challenger Halla Tomasdottir's 30,4 per cent, while the remaining seven candidates lagged far behind, results show with about one-seventh of ballots counted.

The Interior Ministry had set up a polling station in France near the national football team's camp in Annecy, where fans have followed their team into the knockout stage of the championship.

A record nine candidates were in the running, with polls clearly favouring Johannesson, a historian specializing on the presidency of Iceland.

About 240,000 voters were eligible to vote for a successor to Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who is stepping down after 20 years in office.

While largely playing a ceremonial role, the president does influence the formation of government.

Johannesson won public acclaim for television appearances in April when he commented on events before and after then-premier Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned over leaked data in the Panama Papers suggesting he and his wife had an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. Both denied wrongdoing.

The historian told dpa the election campaign was a "new and exciting" experience for him.

Other main contenders are author Andri Snaer Magnason, and former conservative premier David Oddsson, who also served as head of the central bank.

Last update: Sun, 26/06/2016 - 02:03
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