Iceland's president is determined to break the landslide



Iceland, which has suspended elections in another European country after the elimination of the coronavirus lockdown, began voting in Saturday's presidential election, as well as widespread demand for a second four-year mandate by Goody Johannessen.


Polling stations for the country's 252,217 voters started at 09:00 am (local time and GMT). They will close at 10:00 pm when the first exit poll is announced.

President Johansson was an early voter who came to his polling station at the school of Alphonse, not far from the capital city of Reykjavik.

"If I get the support of my compatriot, I will continue on the same path," he told AFP.

In the Parliamentary Republic of Iceland, the role of the president is highly symbolic, but he has the power to veto legislation and referendum.

Opinion polls suggest that former Wall Street broker Gudmundur Franklin Johnson, the Johansen Writing Challenger, is unlikely to win.

Voter surveys since the beginning of June predicted 52-year-old independent and former history professor Johansson would be a solid success. In his last Gallup poll on Friday evening, he said he had 93.4 percent support.

Iceland history professor Goodmundur Hafdanarson told AFP: "(Opinion) elections are not elections ... in fact, it's a big difference."

The coronavirus is expected to have no impact on the pandemic election, as only 365,000 people have been affected by the country. It reported 10 deaths and currently has about 10 active cases.

However, voters are said to be providing hand sanitizers and gloves and to stay two meters away from polling stations.

Iceland was the second country in Europe to hold elections after the lockdown ended. Elections were held in Serbia and Poland last week, and France will do so on Sunday.

Johannison, who became the country's youngest president since independence in 1944, received strong support from 76 to 86 percent in his first term, according to the MMR Polling Institute.

He averaged 25 points more than his predecessor.

Political science professor at the University of Iceland, Olafur Hardson, said, "He is seen as a person who is not very formal. He is not very formal, which is why Icelanders like him and take the presidency."

Unlike his predecessor, Olafer Grimson, who was never hesitant to get involved in the conflict, Johannissen, the country's sixth president, has focused on uniting the country for the past four years.

- Chairman's Role -

The Iceland president does not usually contest after his first term. But according to experts, the challenge this time around is not to be seen as a sign of political tension.

Professor Erich Bergman of Bifrost University said, "The main danger facing Good is the lack of enthusiasm for the election, and his supporters may feel that he is completely safe in his office and therefore cannot opt-out."

Johannessen's opponent, Goodmundur Franklin Johnson, struggled to come up with voters.

The 56-year-old has been running a hotel in Denmark since 2013 and was a fan of US President Donald Trump, who first entered politics in 2010 when he founded the right-wing populist movement, Haggai Grenier.

As in recent elections, the role of the president has been a major theme in the campaign.

At present, the powers under Prime Minister Katrin Jacobsdottir are with the government.

Challenger Johnson wants the president to take a more active role in politics so he can exercise his right to veto the law.

That force was used by Olafer Grimson only three times during his five commands from 1996 to 2016.

However, the meaning of the country's constitution, according to experts, is specifically about the role of the president in convening elections and abolishing parliament.

"I don't like it (because), the president of Iceland is an official character, not a political character," voter Audun Gisley Aronson told AFP just days before the election.

Polls open at 9:00 AM (0900 GMT) and 10:00 PM (2200 GMT), with early estimates expected shortly.

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