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Upcoming elections in Iceland - 2021

The next elections to Alþingi (Icelandic Parliament) are to be held on September 25 2021. Meaning there will be a lot of information in the air related to various political parties and campaigning will be a major feature in society and in the media in the coming months.

 

Iceland is a democratic country and one with a very high voting rate. Here following is important information regarding the election process and the voting process.

We encourage everyone with the right to vote in Iceland to exercise this right. Hopefully through providing people of foreign backgrounds more information about the election and your right to vote we enable you to participate in the democratic process here in Iceland.

 

We will keep up to date information regarding the elections and various election related events posted here on our website and on our Facebook site.

 

Voting in general

Parliamentary elections are usually held every four years. Voters In Iceland do not vote for individual candidates, rather for a political party. Each party puts forth a list of candidates for each of the constituencies- across Iceland. Voters choose which list of candidates they believe will be worthy of representing their views in parliament.

 

This system is called representative democracy. In parliamentary elections, the country is divided into six constituencies. 63 parliamentary seats are elected by proportional representation, which means that the political parties are allocated parliamentary seats in proportion to the votes cast for them in the election.

Important questions and answers

All Icelandic citizens who are 18 years of age and older and domiciled in this country at the time of the election can vote in parliamentary elections.

 

CAN I VOTE? WHERE SHOULD I VOTE? – To find out if you have the right to vote and where you should vote, visit this site set up by Registers Iceland. It´s in Icelandic but you simply fill in your Icelandic personal ID in the field and press the “Leita” button.

 

Icelandic citizens who have moved abroad retain the right to vote for eight years from the time they move their legal domicile from the country and longer if applied for to the Registers Iceland.

 

Voter registration is passive and Registers Iceland maintains a central database of registered voters based on the population register. Voters residing abroad remain in the voter register for eight years following their departure, after which they must actively register for elections. When the date for elections are called, Registers Iceland provides extracts of the voter list to the municipalities, which split them by polling ward. The lists are made available for public scrutiny ten days before election day. Corrections, except changes to location or residence, can be made with Registers Iceland up to and on election day. Voters can also check their registration information via an online platform.

In order to be able to run and sit in Althingi, individuals must be eligible to stand for election. All Icelandic citizens who have reached the age of 18 when the parliamentary elections take place are eligible for election, except for Supreme Court judges and the President of Iceland. It would not be in line with the requirement for a threefold division of state power that these parties have a seat in Althingi. Therefore, a Supreme Court judge would have to resign in order to run for parliament.

 

In addition to having reached the age of 18, a Member of Althingi must have an unblemished reputation. This means that if a person has received a criminal conviction where the punishment is unconditional imprisonment, he has tarnished his reputation until the sentence has been fully served.

 

A voter elects a list of candidates for a specific political party that has been compiled within the party, either by standing or on the basis of a result from a primary election, pre-election or postal election. Voters have the option of changing the order of names on the list of candidates and / or deleting the names of candidates, but a significant number of voters must do so in order for this to have an effect.

You can vote in two ways: By showing up at the polling station on election day itself, as most people do, or by voting outside the polling station before election day. 

 

Before each election, you can look up information on where to vote (constituency, polling station and constituency) on the website of the National Registry of Iceland. When arriving at a polling station, a voter goes to the constituency where he is registered to vote. There he identifies himself by presenting identification. The electoral commission then hands him a ballot paper. The voter enters the polling station with the ballot paper. There he votes by marking a cross (X) with a pencil in a square in front of the letter of the list on the ballot paper he wants to vote for.

 

  • If a voter wants to change the order of names in the list he chooses, he puts the number 1 in front of the name he wants at the top, the number 2 in front of the name he wants second in the row, the number 3 in front of the name he wants it third, etc., in so far as he wishes to change to.
  • If a voter wants to reject a candidate on the list he or she elects, he / she crosses out his or her name.
  • A voter must be careful, no matter what he chooses, to make no other mark on the ballot paper, otherwise the vote will be invalid.
  • A voter may not tamper with lists that he or she does not vote for, nor cross out names on them or change their order.

 

A voter then folds the ballot paper into the same fragment as it was in when he received it, walks out of the polling station and directly to the ballot box and places the ballot paper in the box in the presence of a representative of the electoral commission. A voter shall ensure that no one can see how he or she voted. The electoral commission then marks the name of the voter on the electoral roll as soon as he has voted.

ABSENTEE VOTING IN ICELAND

 

In Iceland, absentee voting (elections outside the polling station) are conducted by district commissioners throughout the country, at their head offices or at their branches. The district commissioner may also decide that voting shall take place at a special polling station in the district. Further information is available at the website of the district commissioners.

 

Voting will take place in hospitals, homes for the elderly, prisons and other such institutions chosen according to a further decision by the district commissioner in each location. Only patients and residents of the institutions in question are able to vote there.

 

Requests for voting at home due to illness, disability or childbirth must be in writing and must have reached the relevant district commissioner’s office no later than at 10:00 two days before election.

 

All those who are registered on the electoral roll are allowed to vote outside the election meeting of any district commissioner, regardless of residence or legal domicile.

 

Practical information regarding the elections can be found at the Government of Iceland website.  

 

ABSENTEE VOTING ABROAD

 

Absentee voting will take place in all Icelandic embassies abroad, as well as in Consulate general offices in New York, Winnipeg, Nuuk and Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. Absentee voting is also possible by agreement at Icelandic honorary consul offices abroad.

 

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs may, however, decide that voting outside the polling station takes place in other places abroad. Voters are advised to contact the embassies and / or ambassadors who have an overview of where it is possible to vote. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, voters’ access to polling stations abroad might be restricted.

 

Voters are expected to obtain information themselves with regard to who are running for office and what letters are used to represent the parties. Practical information regarding the elections can be found at the Government of Iceland website

Voters who are quarantined or isolated due to Covid-19 may not vote in public polling stations or by-elections. In order for these voters to be able to vote in parliamentary elections on 25. September, a special regulation has been issued in consultation with the epidemiological authorities.

 

Voters who are quarantined or isolated may come by car to a special polling station.

 

District commissioners will set up special polling stations and advertise them.  Voting at special polling stations will begin on 20. September. It is important to note that the opening and closing hours of each polling station will vary between districts.

 

To help voters understand where and how they can vote in a special election, simple questions are used to guide the voter to the most appropriate implementation. The questions are for guidance only to the voter and therefore no name or personal information is requested or kept.

 

Go here to see if it’s possible for you to vote if quarantined or isolated due tp covid-19 (Information in Icelandic only).

 

Go here for specific information about special polling stations for each district. (Information in Icelandic only).

 

If you cannot access the information provided in Icelandic, we recommend you use this link which provides contact information (email & telephone numbers) for the district commissioners. They can provide you with exact information regarding special polling stations in your district.

Constituencies and the allocation of parliamentary seats

Iceland is divided into six constituencies in parliamentary elections:

 

  • Northwestern constituency,
  • Northeastern constituency,
  • Southern constituency,
  • Southwestern constituency,
  • Reykjavík constituency north and
  • Reykjavík constituency south.

 

The boundaries of the constituencies are determined by law, but the National Electoral Commission decides the constituency boundaries between the Reykjavík constituencies. Most parliamentary seats are in the Southwest constituency (13) and the fewest are in the Northwest constituency (8).

A total of 63 parliamentary seats are elected, of which 54 are constituency seats and 9 are balancing seats. The constituency seats are allocated on the basis of election results in each constituency, while the balancing seats are allocated on the basis of the number of votes nationwide between the parties that receive a minimum of 5% of the vote.

 

The purpose of allocating equalization seats is to correct the discrepancy between the support of national parties and the number of constituency seats.

 

More about constituencies here

 

CAN I VOTE? WHERE SHOULD I VOTE? – To find out if you have the right to vote and where you should vote, visit this site set up by Registers Iceland. It´s in Icelandic but you simply fill in your Icelandic personal ID in the field and press the “Leita” button.

 

 

Additional sources for information:

 

The political parties

Here below you find direct links to the websites of each of the political parties that will be running in the 2021 elections. (This information is subject to change)

Flokkur fólksins (F)

Framsóknarflokkurinn (B)

Frjálslyndi lýðræðisflokkurinn (O)

Miðflokkurinn (M)

Píratar (P)

Samfylkingin (S)

Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (D)

Sósíalistaflokkur Íslands (J)

Viðreisn (C)

Vinstrihreyfingin grænt framboð (V)

Note that the below party is only possible to vote for

in the Reykjavík north constituency

Ábyrg framtíð (Y)

Election coverage by the media

Direct links to the election coverage of the media outlets that offer special election sections on their sites.

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