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New PM announces incoming coalition govt

3 min

Iceland's first female premier and the first openly gay head of state, Johanna Sigurdardottir (pictured), has announced the cabinet of the new leftist coalition tasked with leading the country out of its deep economic crisis.


AFP - Iceland's first woman prime minister and first openly gay head of government announced a new cabinet Sunday that will immediately begin trying to dig the country out of its deep economic crisis.

"I was today asked by the president of Iceland to finish forming the government, which has succeeded. That government will be based on new social values," said Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir, who serves as premier.

"For the short time this government will exist, we will emphasise assistance to buisnesses and families," added Sigurdardottir, who with her appointment will become the world's first openly gay government chief in modern times.

The new interim minority coalition between the Social Democrats and the Left Green party replaces outgoing Prime Minister Geir Haarde's right-left coalition that was forced to resign on January 26 following months of increasingly violent protests over the economic crisis.




Thousands of Icelanders have lost their savings and jobs since the once booming financial sector crumbled in October, and many blame Haarde for the crisis that forced Reykjavik to take control of its major banks as the country's currency nosedived.

The two parties wrapped up five days of negotiations Saturday telling reporters in the Icelandic capital they had reached an agreement.

The new government is made up of four Social Democratic ministers, including Sigurdardottir, and four Left Green ministers, while two independents, Gylfi Magnusson and Ragna Arnadottir, were handed the ministries of commerce and of justice, resepectively.

The 66-year-old Sigurdardottir, one of Iceland's most experienced politicians, served as minister of social affairs in the outgoing government and is known as a champion of social causes, earning her the nickname Saint Johanna among her peers and the public.

While she has never hidden her sexuality, Sigurdardottir is very private about her personal life and has never discussed it in public. Many Icelanders only learned of her homosexuality when her name emerged as the possible future prime minister.

Sigurdardottir, who married her companion Jonina Ledsdottir in 2002, was set to officially take over as prime minister after a meeting of her cabinet with President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson later Sunday.

Following a meeting with her earlier in the day, Grimsson told reporters he was thrilled about the new head of government.

"Even though a president shouldn't take a stance towards any party or individual, I would like to declare special pleasure with my decision today to give Johanna Sigurdardottir this assignment by which she becomes the first Iclendic woman to become the prime minister of Iceland," he said.

The new government is unlikely to remain in place for long however, since Haarde shortly before his resignation called snap elections for May 9.

Both the Social Democrats and the Left Greens have meanwhile decided to propose holding them earlier on April 25.

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