Iceland, Austria.jpg
Arnor Ingvi Traustason (L) of Iceland scores the winning goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 group F preliminary round match between Iceland and Austria at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, 22 June 2016.
Photograph: EPA/FILIP SINGER

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.

Latest news

Reports: 12 injured as car runs into crowd at New Orleans parade

Twelve people were injured Saturday in the US city of New Orleans when a car struck a crowd watching a parade, local media reported.

"Moonlight" big winner at independent film awards

The coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" won six prizes including best feature at the 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards Saturday, claiming the Hollywood spotlight on the eve of the Oscars.

Trump: I won't attend White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he does not plan to attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year.

US Democratic Party chooses Tom Perez to be next party chief

The US Democratic Party elected former labour secretary Tom Perez as its next party chief at a meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

73-year-old man dies after car ramming in Germany

A 73-year-old male pedestrian died from his injuries after being run over when a car rammed into people in the south-western town of Heidelberg, police said Saturday.

Syrian government vows retribution for Homs attacks that killed 42

The Syrian government vowed retribution for synchronized attacks on Saturday in Homs City that left 42 security personnel dead and reportedly involved up to six suicide bombers.

Between 250,000 and 300,000 Croatians suffer from rare diseases

Rare Disease Day, observed on February 28, was marked in Zagreb's Cvjetni Trg Square on Saturday.

German police shoot man who rammed car into pedestrians in Heidelberg

Police in Germany shot a man who rammed a car into pedestrians in the south-western town of Heidelberg on Saturday.

Egypt's al-Sissi orders cabinet to help Christians fleeing Sinai

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi ordered the government on Saturday to take all necessary measures to help Christians who escaped northern Sinai after the Islamic State militia killed at least six of them over the past month.

SDP MP calls on citizens to raise their voice against restriction of women's rights

Josko Klisovic, a Social Democrat member of the Croatian parliament, on Saturday called on all Croatians to raise their voice against a policy turnaround on women's rights after Croatia took a conservative position in a discussion on human rights in the Council of the European Union.

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's aide of 22 years

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted one of ousted president Hosny Mubarak's closest aides, ruling he was not guilty of corruption and illicit profits.

EU ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin under 24-hour police protection

EU Ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin and her family have been given 24-hour armed police protection due to threats she has been receiving lately, the Austrian paper Der Standard said on Saturday, explaining that the threats were linked to Vlahutin's monitoring of a reform of Albania's judiciary designed to curb corruption in that country.