Icelandic presidential election, 2012

Icelandic presidential election, 2012
30 June 2012

Nominee Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson Thóra Arnórsdóttir Ari Trausti Guðmundsson
Party Independent Independent Independent
Popular vote 84,036 52,795 13,762
Percentage 52.78% 33.16% 8.64%

President before election

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

Elected President

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Presidential elections were held in Iceland on 30 June 2012.[1] The result was a victory for the incumbent Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who defeated his nearest rival Thóra Arnórsdóttir by nearly 20% of the vote, and went on to serve a record fifth term as president of Iceland.

Candidates and campaign

There were six candidates, but the election became a contest between the incumbent President, and the journalist Thóra Arnórsdóttir, who wanted to return the presidency to a more ceremonial role.

Main candidates:


Two other candidates declared their intent to stand in the election, but later dropped out:[11]


After trailing in the opinion polls, Ólafur resorted to a negative campaign against Thóra, saying she would be "dangerous for the country" and that she would "do nothing but follow the government's will, particularly in terms of foreign policy", in continuing its membership application to the European Union being pursued by the current government led by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir's Social Democratic Alliance, and he had reservervations about the prospect of being a member of the EU. He also accused the Icelandic media of giving Thóra preferential treatment.[12] Ólafur also claimed to be the best person to steer Iceland through financial crisis.[6] Thóra also accused Ólafur of distorting the president's role from that of a figurehead to a more political position[11] and that she would return the post to its ceremonial stature instead of getting involved in politics.[14] However, Ólafur was said to be popular because of the two referenda Iceland held over the financial crisis and, as a result, many Icelanders felt he was looking out for their interests[15] after being seen to have stood up to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands over Icesave repayments.[16]

Thóra told the Reykjavik Grapevine that Iceland needs new leadership: "I think we have all felt a strong need for a change in this country. Iceland is a small country, and we pretty much agree on how this society should be;" she also told Morgunbladid that her lack of experience in politics was not a bad thing as she "think[s] that now is an opportunity to learn from the experience we have been through … and use it for a new beginning...[although the presidency is largely ceremonial, the position] has a great power of influence."[17]

Opinion polls

An opinion poll published on 21 May by the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Iceland showed Thóra leading with 46.2%, with Ólafur on 37.8%. However, after she suspended her campaign as she was due to give birth, the gap narrowed as Ólafur stood alone as the leading campaigner.[12] An average of three poll prior to the election indicated Ólafur leading with 45% and Thóra in second place with 37.7% ahead of four other candidates.[6]

Name11 and 12 April[18]26 April[19]>10 and 15 May[20]8–18 May[21]23 and 24 May[22]1–5 June[23]14–20 June[24]22–26 June[25]25–26 June[25]
Andrea Ólafsdóttir---3.8 %2.7 %2.1 %1.6 %2.5 %1.7 %
Ari Trausti Guðmundsson-11.5 %8.9 %8.9 %5.3 %9.2 %10.5 %9.3 %7.5 %
Ástþór Magnússon1.5 %0.8 %0.9 %0.4 %0.9 %----
Hannes Bjarnason0.4 %0.3 %0.6 %0.2 %0.0 %1.1 % 0.8 %0.8 %0.3 %
Herdís Þorgeirsdóttir2.9 %3.0 %1,3 %2.6 %1.3 %2.6 %5.3 %3.4 %2.6 %
Jón Lárusson1.2 %0.6 %1.0 %0.1 %1.2 %----
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson46.0 %34.8 %41.3 %37.8 %53.9 %45.8 %44.8 %50.8 %57.0 %
Thóra Arnórsdóttir46.5 %49.0 %43.4 %46.2 %35.3 %39.3 %37.0 %33.6 %30.8 %


Voting centres were open from 9AM to 10PM. After having voted, Thóra said DV: "You see this glorious day, I can't be anything but optimistic. The Gallup poll gives a strong indication of the outcome, but we will just count the votes and accept whatever that brings us. To have the possibility to topple the current president is a victory in itself." The same day Ólafur wrote in Morgunbladid: "Iceland is now at a crossroads. Behind us are difficult years. Ahead are decisions on the constitution and our relationship with other countries in Europe. There is still turbulence in the continent's economy and in many areas... The president...shall assist the country in tackling the biggest issues; they will determine the fate of Icelanders for decades."[14]


Summary of the 30 June 2012 Icelandic presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson independent 84,036 52.78
Thóra Arnórsdóttir independent 52,795 33.16
Ari Trausti Guðmundsson independent 13,762 8.64
Herdis Thorgeirsdottir independent 4,189 2.63
Andrea Ólafsdóttir independent 2,867 1.80
Hannes Bjarnason independent 1,556 0.98
Valid votes 159,205 97.52
Invalid/Blank votes 4,046 2.48
Total 163,251 100.00
Electorate/Turnout 235,495 69.32
Source: Nohlen & Stöver
Last election (2008)  Next election (2016)


After partial results were released Thóra told RUV: "This has been a valuable experience. Now I will take a holiday, attend to my new daughter and the other children and go on maternity leave and think how I can put this experience to use. To get more than one-third [of votes], I'm overwhelmed. I of course hoped to win. This is something you only do once in a lifetime," as she indicated she would not run in the next election.[26]


According to Euronews, Ólafur's win was seen as having "emboldened a presidential office that had up until then played a mainly ceremonial role."[27]

Other information

If one of the female candidates had won, Iceland would have had nearly all its leading governing and religious positions held by women; the female president would be head of state, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir would be head of government, Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir would be the Althing speaker, while Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir would have been the head of the Church of Iceland.[12]


  1. "Icelandic PM wants public vote on new constitution". 2012-06-08. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  2. "Iceland's president might seek a fifth term". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  3. "New Year's Address by the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson" (PDF). 1 January 2012. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  4. "Fréttir: Neitar að upplýsa hvort hann bjóði sig aftur fram" (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  5. Valdimarsson, Omar R. (2012-03-04). "Iceland President Seeks Fifth Term After Petition From Voters". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  6. 1 2 3 Valdimarsson, Omar R. "Iceland's Grimsson Sees Conflict as Record Re-Election Nears". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  7. "Æska og uppvöxtur". 14 April 2012.
  8. "Herdís fer í forsetann" (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  10. "Eighth Candidate Joins Iceland's Presidential Race". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  11. 1 2 "BBC News – Q&A: Iceland's presidential election". 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  12. 1 2 3 4 "Presidential election in iceland – 30th June 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  13. "First candidate revealed for Iceland presidential election". 2012-06-08. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  14. 1 2 "Iceland president wins record fifth term – rest of the world – News". 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  15. Baldini, Luisa (2012-03-15). "Election in Iceland: Campaigning with nappies in hand". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  16. "Defiance to secure Iceland president record 5th term". 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  17. "Iceland to vote in presidential elections | IceNews – Daily News". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  18. "22 prósent óákveðin – Þóra og Ólafur jöfn". 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  19. "Þóra mælist með mest fylgi" (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  20. "Top Presidential Candidates Neck-on-Neck in Polls". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  21. "Þóra með forskot á Ólaf" (in Icelandic). 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  22. "Ólafur Ragnar Takes Lead in Iceland Presidential Race". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  23. "President of Iceland Still Gets Most Support in Polls". IcelandReview. 1944-06-17. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  24. "Both Top Presidential Candidates Lose Support". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  25. 1 2 "Iceland Prepares to Elect New President". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  26. "Journalist admits defeat in Iceland vote – Europe". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2013-04-22.

External links

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