Icelanders vote in volatile election with climate in mind

Reykjavik, Iceland Iceland voted on Saturday in a climate change-dominated general election in which an unprecedented number of political parties are likely to win seats in parliament.

Polls suggest there will be no final winner, resulting in complicated negotiations to form a coalition government.

A record nine parties could exceed the 5 percent threshold needed to qualify for seats in Iceland’s Althing parliament. First-class parties include the Socialist Party, which has pledged to cut the work week and nationalize Iceland’s fishing industry.

A high turnout is expected, as one-fifth of those eligible to vote have voted in absentia.

Climate change is high amid voter concern in Iceland, a volcanic island nation lit up by the Ice Age with about 350,000 residents in the North Atlantic.

An extremely hot summer by Icelandic standards – 59 days with temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit – and shrinking glaciers have helped put global warming on the political agenda.

Polls show strong support for left-wing parties pledging to reduce CO2 emissions by more than Iceland had promised under the Paris Climate Agreement. The country has committed to being climate neutral by 2040, a decade ahead of most other European countries.

The current government is a three-party coalition, covering the political spectrum from left to center right, led by Prime Minister Catherine Jacobsdottir of the Left Greens. Founded in 2017 after years of political instability.

Jacobsdottir remains a popular prime minister, but polls suggest his party may underperform and end the current coalition.

“The country faces important decisions, including party leaders pledging to end Iceland’s dependence on oil and raise taxes for many of the rich,” Jacobsdottir said in a televised debate on Friday night.

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