Country Report Iceland July 1998 Main report

Political scene: W satisf'y local election perf for gov'g parties --

Icelandic voters turned out in large numbers for the local elections on May 23rd, but delivered no clear victory to either the governing coalition partners or the opposition. The favourable economic climate provided the government parties with a reasonable platform on which to fight, although there is not necessarily a direct link between success at national and local level. The country's largest party and the senior coalition partner, the Independence Party (IP), performed well in rural areas but failed to regain control of the municipality of Reykjavik, which has historically been its strongest centre of support. On a national basis the party attained the support of 40% of the electorate -- slightly up on the 39.2% secured in the 1994 local elections. The results for the Progressive Party (PP), the junior government party, were similarly mixed, with the party incurring heavy losses in northern and eastern parts of the country while receiving strong support in the south-west.

-- the opposition alliance fails to live up to expectations

The decision of the four main opposition parties -- the People's Alliance, the Social Democratic Party, the People's Movement, and the Women's List - - to fight on a common platform at local level was not the resounding success its leaders had hoped. However the ease with which the alliance was formed at grass-roots level, and its moderate success, will encourage the four opposition leaders to reproduce the alliance at national level. The continued strong showing of the government parties has served to increase the pressure on the opposition parties to fight the next general election on a common platform.

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