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

Denmark defends little-used law allowing seizure of refugee valuables

A controversial year-old Danish law that allows the seizure of assets from asylum seekers to make them pay for their...

Poroshenko to Biden: Ukraine will never submit to Russia

Ukraine will never submit to Russian aggression and return to being a vassal of the Russian empire, Ukrainian...

Merkel to 'work closely' with Trump despite attack over migration

Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to "work closely" with incoming US president Donald Trump despite his attack on her...

Trump's warning to German carmakers hits shares

Shares in German carmakers tumbled on Monday after incoming US president Donald Trump threatened the industry with...

Slovenians favour stronger border controls

Eighty-six percent of Slovenian citizens justify the government's decision to upgrade border controls due to a...