Iceland's PM announces resignation after snap vote

Posted October 31, 2016

The Pirate Party, founded four years ago by an assortment of hackers, political activists and Internet freedom advocates, drew global attention as its support surged among Icelanders fed up with established parties after years of financial turmoil and political scandal.

"We are very much about modernizing our system, so that people don't fall through the cracks all the time", she said during an interview in a Pirate Party office bustling with election activity.

With nearly all votes from the balloting Saturday counted, the Independence Party had 29 percent support and the Pirate Party 14.5 percent, putting them in third place behind the Left-Green movement at 15.9 percent.

The Pirate Party may sound like a novelty political outfit, but this former ragtag bunch of internet activists may be on the verge of winning Iceland's parliamentary elections Saturday, NBC News reported.

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson has announced his resignation after his party suffered an unexpected defeat in the country's snap parliamentary votes.

Some 246,500 Icelanders were eligible to vote in Saturday's election.

The Pirate Party, meanwhile, said it would not link up with the Independence Party. Party leaders started talks with Johannesson on Sunday.

Voters defied rain and freezing winds to get to the polling stations which opened at 9:00 am (0900 GMT) in Reykjavik and one hour later in the countryside.

The leader of the Independence Party, Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, will be given the mandate to negotiate on the majority in the parliament.

That left the pro-European Reform Party, which had 10.1% of the vote, in the position of possible kingmaker. Independence's coalition partner, the Progressive Party, had 11.5%.

After near-constant exposure to the nausea-inducing dumpster fire that is the 2016 US presidential race, it might be hard to grok that a movement of anti-establishment internet pirates has become one of the leading political parties of a small island nation. The ruling Independence Party is leading with 31 percent, while the Greens are running second with 15.5 percent.

The Independence Party has been part of every government between 1980 and 2009 and again from 2013, presided over the privatization of the banks, the financial sector's liberalization and demise, and eventual the economic recovery.

Saturday's election was called after then-Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned in April during public protests over his offshore holdings, revealed in the Panama Papers leak.

This anti-establishment message resonated with some Icelanders and the Pirates gained a seat in parliament in 2013.

"If we get more than 15 percent, we will be deeply thankful", she said. "We are an innovative party that is trying new methods, and we took a lot of risks in order to stay true to ourselves".

Helped by a huge tourism boom - 2.4 million visitors, almost seven times the country's population, are expected in 2017 - economic growth is forecast to reach 4.3% this year, and unemployment has fallen to just over 3%.