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Home Technology Iceland Forms Coalition Government After Months of Talks

Iceland Forms Coalition Government After Months of Talks

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For a country of just 300,000 inhabitants, forming a government in Iceland has been strangely laborious.

But on Wednesday, after more than two months of negotiations among seven political parties, this island finally up its mind — a three-party coalition, no less, whose leadership includes a lawmaker who used to play with a punk rock band called Dr. Spock.

“It took a long time, so everybody is just relieved that we have a government and that there is somebody to rule the country,” said Fridrik Palsson, a businessman in the capital, Reykjavik, who supported the conservative Independence Party.

The center-right government, headed by the Independence Party and its junior partners, Regeneration and Bright Future, together hold a slim majority — just 32 seats out of 63 in Parliament.

The Independence leader, Bjarni Benediktsson, will become prime minister, state broadcaster RUV reported. Ottarr Proppe, the leader of Bright Future who once starred in a Eurovision contest with Dr. Spock, will become health minister.

The formation of the new government no doubt came as a relief to many in Iceland, but the lineup of the new administration dashed hopes of radical change.

Many Icelanders had pinned their hopes on the anti-establishment, anarchist-leaning Pirate Party, which made huge gains in parliamentary elections in October but failed to win an outright majority.

The Pirate Party surged in popularity last year, thanks to its promises to root out corruption after the release of the so-called Panama Papers, which revealed the vast hidden wealth of politicians, including prime minister at the time, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. He later stepped down over accusations of a conflict of interest.

In the monthslong stalemate, the Pirate Party was given an opportunity to form a government but failed to secure the support of other left-leaning parties.

Among the most prominent moves that the new administration plans to take is to hold a referendum on European Union membership, Mr. Benediktsson said on Tuesday, a move that is supported by the two junior partners but not widely endorsed by voters.

Iceland began European Union accession talks in 2010, as the country was recovering from the financial crash.

Like Norway, Iceland is part of the European Economic Area and the regional free-trade association, meaning that it is part of the single market, but its agriculture and fisheries are excluded.

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