Saturday, April 25, 2009

Early signs of win for Iceland's left-wing parties

Iceland's leftist government was headed for a strong victory in the country's general election, according to preliminary results late Saturday.

Early results showed that a left-wing coalition made up of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement has won 35 out of the 63 seats in parliament.

The two parties are part of a caretaker government that took office in February after public protests about Iceland's economic collapse toppled the previous conservative administration. The left-wing coalition is led by interim Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

The results are an overwhelming rejection of the conservative, pro-business Independence Party, which headed a coalition government last fall when the banking system failed.

The Social Democratic Alliance has won 22 seats in parliament with 33 percent of the votes counted, while the Left Green Movement has 13 seats with 19.9 percent of votes, early results showed. The Independence Party has 15 seats with 22.5 percent of votes.

The centrist Progressive Party has nine seats with 12.8 percent of votes and the Citizens Movement has four seats with 8.2 percent of the vote. Around 38 percent of all votes have been counted so far.

The global financial crisis washed up hard on the shores of this volcanic island of 320,000 people. After racking up massive debts during years of laissez-faire economic regulation and rapid expansion, the country's three main banks collapsed within the space of a week in October.

The government sought a $10 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout and the country's currency, the krona, has plummeted.

Unemployment and inflation have spiraled and the IMF has predicted that the economy will shrink by about 10 percent in 2009, which would be Iceland's biggest slump since it won full independence from Denmark in 1944.

Iceland's election commission announced the early results Saturday night shortly after polls closed around the country.

No comments: