Iceland's presidential vote overshadowed by Euro 2016 success

Votes were being tallied Saturday evening in Iceland in a presidential election that had been eclipsed by a national fervour surrounding the Icelandic football team's success in the Euro 2016.

The Interior Ministry said it has 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 independent candidate Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson, a historian specializing on the presidency of Iceland. Early returns showed Johannesson in the lead with nearly 39 per cent of the vote.

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 - 01:23
Author: 

More from Europe

Austria to veto further EU accession talks with Turkey

Austria will block the continuation of EU talks with Ankara over Turkey's future membership in the bloc, Austrian...

Diplomats call for ceasefire in Aleppo at Paris meet

Foreign ministry officials from the West and the Middle East meeting in Paris Saturday for talks on Syria have...

French government seeks to extend state of emergency to July 2017

The French government said Saturday it would ask parliament to approve an extension to the country's state of...

No agreement reached between Russia, Ukraine on gas deliveries

Russian and Ukrainian officials failed to reach an agreement on gas deliveries this winter in a first round of EU-...

Britain jails man for posting Islamic State video on Facebook

A British court sentenced a 31-year-old man to two years in prison on Friday after he was convicted of encouraging...