President of Iceland

Last updated
President of Iceland
Forseti Íslands
Coat of arms of the President of Iceland.svg
Flag of the President of Iceland.svg
Gudni Th. Johannesson (2017-03-30).jpg
Incumbent
Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson

since 1 August 2016
Office of the President
Member ofState Council of Iceland
Residence Bessastaðir
Seat Garðabær, Capital Region
Term length Four years
Renewable indefinitely as long as the incumbent wins presidential elections or is uncontested.
Constituting instrument Constitution of Iceland
Precursor King of Iceland
Formation17 June 1944
First holder Sveinn Björnsson
SuccessionCollective
President of the Parliament, Prime Minister and President of the Supreme Court.
Salary 289,000 annual [1] (2017)
Website english.forseti.is (in English)
forseti.is (in Icelandic)
Coat of arms of Iceland.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Iceland
Constitution

The President of Iceland (Icelandic : Forseti Íslands) is the Icelandic elected head of state. The incumbent is Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, who is now in his first term as president, elected in 2016.

Icelandic language North Germanic language mainly spoken in Iceland

Icelandic is a North Germanic language spoken in Iceland. Along with Faroese, Norn, and Western Norwegian it formerly constituted West Nordic; while Danish, Eastern Norwegian and Swedish constituted East Nordic. Modern Norwegian Bokmål is influenced by both groups, leading the Nordic languages to be divided into mainland Scandinavian languages and Insular Nordic.

A head of state is the public persona who officially embodies a state in its unity and legitimacy. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government and more.

2016 Icelandic presidential election

Presidential elections took place in Iceland on 25 June 2016. President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, elected in 1996, stepped down after serving five consecutive terms. Historian and lecturer Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was elected after receiving a plurality with 39.1% of the vote. He took office on 1 August, as the first new president of the Nordic country in twenty years.

Contents

The president is elected to a four-year term by popular vote, is not term-limited, and has limited powers. The presidential residence is situated in Bessastaðir in Garðabær, near the capital city Reykjavík.

Bessastaðir official residence of the president of Iceland

Bessastaðir is today the official residence of the President of Iceland and is situated in Álftanes, not far from the capital city, Reykjavík.

Garðabær municipality in Iceland

Garðabær is a municipality in the Capital Region of Iceland.

Reykjavík Capital and largest city in Iceland

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói bay. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. With a population of around 128,793, it is the center of Iceland's cultural, economic and governmental activity, and is a popular tourist destination.

Origin

When Iceland became a Republic in 1944 by the passing of a new Constitution the position of King of Iceland was simply replaced by the President of Iceland. A transitional provision of the new constitution stipulated that the first president be elected by the parliament.

1944 Icelandic constitutional referendum Referendum in Iceland

A two-part referendum was held in Iceland between 20 and 23 May 1944. Voters were asked whether the Union with Denmark should be abolished and whether to adopt a new republican constitution. Both measures were approved, each with more than 98% in favour. Voter turnout was 98.4% overall, and 100% in two constituencies, Seyðisfirði and Vestur-Skaftafjellssýsla.

Monarchy of Iceland

The Monarchy of Iceland, was the system of government in which an hereditary monarch was the sovereign of the Kingdom of Iceland from 1918 to 1944. Under a personal union, due to the Act of Union, the monarch was simultaneously monarch of Denmark. The Parliament of Iceland asked that Denmark represent Iceland internationally, and day-to-day matters were delegated to a Danish plenipotentiary for Icelandic affairs based in Reykjavík, and – after the German invasion of Denmark in 1940 – a regent was appointed.

Etymology of Forseti

The word Forseti means "sá sem fremst situr" in Old Norse. It is the name of one of the Æsir, the god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. He is generally identified with Fosite, a god of the Frisians.

Forseti Norse god

Forseti is the god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. He is generally identified with Fosite, a god of the Frisians. Jacob Grimm noted that if, as Adam of Bremen states, Fosite's sacred island was Heligoland, that would make him an ideal candidate for a deity known to both Frisians and Scandinavians, but that it is surprising he is never mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus.

Old Norse North Germanic language

Old Norse was a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements from about the 9th to the 13th centuries.

Æsir Principal pantheon in Norse mythology

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss is a member of the principal pantheon in Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon is known as the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage war against each other, which results in a unified pantheon.

Powers and duties

Executive powers

Cabinet

The President appoints ministers to the Cabinet of Iceland, determines their number and division of assignments. Ministers are not able to resign and must be discharged by the President. The ministers are delegated the President's executive powers and are solely responsible for their actions.

Cabinet of Iceland

The Cabinet of Iceland is the collective decision-making body of the government of Iceland, composed of the Prime Minister and the cabinet ministers.

In the aftermath of general elections, the President has the role to designate a party leader (the one that the President considers most likely to be able to form a majority coalition government) to formally start negotiations to form a government. [2] Sveinn Björnsson and Ásgeir Ásgeirsson played highly active roles in the formation of governments, attempting to set up governments that suited their political preferences, whereas Kristján Eldjárn and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir were passive and neutral as to individuals and parties comprising the government. [3]

Sveinn Björnsson Icelandic politician, 1st President of Iceland

Sveinn Björnsson was the first President of the Republic of Iceland (1944–1952).

Ásgeir Ásgeirsson Icelandic politician, 2nd President of Iceland

Ásgeir Ásgeirsson was the second President of Iceland, from 1952 to 1968. He was a Freemason and served as Grandmaster of the Icelandic Order of Freemasons.

Kristján Eldjárn Icelandic politician, 3rd President of Iceland

Kristján Eldjárn was the third President of Iceland, from 1968 to 1980.

State Council

The President and the Cabinet meet in the State Council. The Cabinet must inform the President of important matters of the state and drafted bills. During meetings the Cabinet may also suggest convening, adjourning or dissolving the Parliament.

Prosecution and pardoning

The President can decide that the prosecution for an offense be discontinued and can also grant pardon and amnesty.

Legislative powers

Article 2 of the constitution states that the President and the Parliament jointly exercise the legislative power. The President signs bills passed by the Parliament into law and can choose not to sign them, thus in effect vetoing them. Bills vetoed by the President do take effect immediately, should the Parliament not withdraw them, but they must be confirmed in a referendum. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (1996–2016) is the only President to have vetoed legislation from the Parliament, having done so on three occasions (2004, 2010, 2011). This power was originally intended to be used only in extremely extenuating circumstances. [4]

The President has the power to submit bills and resolutions to the Parliament which it must take under consideration. Should the Parliament not be in session the President can issue provisional laws which must conform with the constitution. Provisional laws become void if the Parliament does not confirm them when it convenes. No President has ever submitted bills nor resolutions, nor issued provisional laws.

Article 30 of the constitution states that the President can grant exceptions from laws. No President has ever exercised this authority.

Parliament

The President convenes the Parliament after general elections and dissolves it. He can temporarily adjourn its sessions and move them if he deems so necessary. Furthermore, the President opens all regular sessions of the Parliament each year.

Ceremonial duties

The President is the designated grand master of the Order of the Falcon.

Compensation

The president receives a monthly salary of 2,480,341 ISK. Article 9 of the constitution states the salary cannot be lowered for an incumbent President.

Residence

Article 12 of the constitution states that the president shall reside in or near Reykjavík. Since inception the official residence of the President has been Bessastaðir which is in Garðabær.

Eligibility

Articles 4 and 5 of the constitution set the following qualifications for holding the presidency:

Succession

Articles 7 and 8 of the constitution state that when the president dies or is otherwise unable to perform his duties, such as when he is abroad or sick, the prime minister, the president of the parliament and the president of the Supreme Court shall collectively assume the power of the office. Their meetings are led by the president of the parliament where they vote on any presidential decisions. The presidential term is completed and a new president is elected by the general public.

Impeachment

Article 11 of the constitution lays out the process by which the president can be removed from office. It states that the president does not bear responsibility for the actions of his government and that he can not be prosecuted without consent of the Parliament. A referendum instigated by the Parliament with 3/4 support must approve of his removal. Once the Parliament has approved of the referendum, the President must temporarily step aside until the results of the referendum are known. The referendum must be held within two months of the vote, and, should the removal be rejected by the people, then the Parliament must immediately be dissolved and a new general election held.

An impeachment has not occurred since the founding of the republic.

List

There have been six Presidents since the establishment of the republic.

Term:1appointed · 2 died in office · 3 uncontested

PresidentTook officeLeft officeDurationTerm Prime ministers
1 Sveinn Bjornsson.jpg Sveinn Björnsson
(1881–1952)
17 June 194425 January 195227 years, 7 months, 8 days
(2,778 days)
1 (1944)1 Björn Þórðarson
Ólafur Thors
Stefán Jóhann Stefánsson
Ólafur Thors
Steingrímur Steinþórsson
2 (1945)3
3 (1949)3
Regent of Iceland 1941–1944, later became the first President of Iceland. In 1950 considered forming a government that did not rely on parliamentary support after leaders of the parliamentary parties had reached an impasse. The only President to die in office; this led to a vacancy, the powers of the office being constitutionally vested jointly in the prime minister (Steingrímur Steinþórsson), the President of the Parliament (Jón Pálmason) and the President of the Supreme Court (Jón Ásbjörnsson).
2 Asgeir Asgeirsson.jpg Ásgeir Ásgeirsson
(1894–1972)
1 August 19521 August 196816 years
(5,844 days)
4 (1952)Steingrímur Steinþórsson
Ólafur Thors
Hermann Jónasson
Emil Jónsson
Ólafur Thors
Bjarni Benediktsson
Ólafur Thors
Bjarni Benediktsson
5 (1956)3
6 (1960)3
7 (1964)3
First president elected by popular vote.
3 Kristjan Eldjarn (1982).jpg Kristján Eldjárn
(1916–1982)
1 August 19681 August 198012 years
(4,383 days)
8 (1968)Bjarni Benediktsson
Jóhann Hafstein
Ólafur Jóhannesson
Geir Hallgrímsson
Ólafur Jóhannesson
Benedikt Sigurðsson Gröndal
Gunnar Thoroddsen
9 (1972)3
10 (1976)3
At one point considered forming a government that did not rely on parliamentary support after leaders of the parliamentary parties had reached an impasse.
4 Vigdis Finnbogadottir (1985).jpg Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
(born 1930)
1 August 19801 August 199616 years
(5,844 days)
11 (1980)Gunnar Thoroddsen
Steingrímur Hermannsson
Þorsteinn Pálsson
Steingrímur Hermannsson
Davíð Oddsson
12 (1984)3
13 (1988)
14 (1992)3
Was the world's first elected female president and overwhelmingly won a contested election in 1988.
5 Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, September 2011 (cropped).jpeg Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
(born 1943)
1 August 19961 August 201620 years
(7,305 days)
15 (1996)Davíð Oddsson
Halldór Ásgrímsson
Geir Haarde
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
16 (2000)3
17 (2004)
18 (2008)3
19 (2012)
First to use the constitutional authorisation to deny signing a law from the parliament, thus sending the law to a national referendum, on three occasions.
6

President Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson September 2016.jpg

Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson
(born 1968)
1 August 2016Incumbent3 years, 81 days
(1176 days)
20 (2016) Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Bjarni Benediktsson
Katrín Jakobsdóttir

See also

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References

  1. http://icelandmag.is/article/icelands-president-turns-down-a-monthly-pay-increase-5300-usd
  2. "Hvað gerir forseti Íslands og hvaða völd hefur hann?". Vísindavefurinn. Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  3. Jóhannesson, Guðni Th. (2016). Fyrstu forsetarnir. p. 196.
  4. Jóhannesson, Guðni Th. (2016). Fyrstu forsetarnir. p. 57.