President Will Not Run Again

11.6.2014
Words by Paul Fontaine
President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson will not run for office in 2016, leaving the presidency after two decades in power.

In an interview the president gave the magazine Monocle, the president said that he did not intend to run in the last elections, either, but that a petition had encouraged him to do so anyway.

"But 20 years is a long time in this business," he said, referring to the fact that he has been president since 1996.

In fact, the president said two years ago that he might not even finish his current term, but decide instead to turn to other matters before his four years are up.

Additionally, the president insinuated in January 2012 that he probably would not run for the current term he is now serving. He said at the time that, in choosing not to run, he would have "freedom to express my ideas and see to issues that are dear to me, and can also take part in the development of economics, science, research and job creation."

However, the president did enjoy high levels of popular support, and told reporters in March 2012 that a petition of 30,000 signatures calling for him to run again changed his mind.

Former broadcast journalist Þóra Arnórsdóttir throwing her hat in the ring the following month gave Ólafur a run for his money for a while, as polls favoured her as the next president by a wide margin. This prompted the president to go on the offensive while Þóra was taking time out from campaigning to give birth to her new child. Ólafur said that Þóra could be "dangerous" for the country by insinuating that she would not stand in the way of the aim of the ruling coalition at that time to join the European Union - an aim the president has repeatedly opposed.

By the following month, the president had all but closed the gap between himself and Þóra. On election day, the president was re-elected by 52.48% of those who voted, which he declared an "unambiguous message from the people".

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