Government of Iceland
Maintaining good foreign relations between Iceland and other countries has always been of great importance for Icelanders. The island is relatively isolated and requires good communication an trade routes with the rest of the world. The Icelandic government expresses support for increased liberalisation of international trade, for Iceland to be in the forefront in the campaign against pollution of the sea and in international efforts to combat climate change. Moreover, respect for human rights, development co-operation and the peaceful resolution of disputes are defined as cornerstones of Iceland´s foreign policy.
The government has emphasised the importance of dynamic international co-operation based on the principles of international law and responsible participation in international collaboration based on Iceland´s three principal strengths:
- Experience in the sustainable use of marine resources;
- Experience in the use of renewable energy sources;
- Important historical milestones in the campaign for gender equality
Iceland is arguably the world's oldest parliamentary democracy, with the Parliament, the Althingi or Alþingi, established in 930.
Iceland is a constitutional republic with a multi-party system. The head of state is the President of Iceland and executive power is exercised by the government of Iceland. Legislative power is vested in both the parliament and the president. The judiciary system is independent of both the executive and the legislature and Judicial power lies with the Supreme Court and the district courts.
Every fourth year the voters choose, by secret ballot, 63 representatives to sit in Althingi. Anyone who is eligible to vote, with the exception of the President and
judges of the Supreme Court, can stand for parliament. Following each election, the President gives a leader of a political party the authority to form a cabinet, usually beginning with the leader of the largest party. If unsuccessful; the President will ask another political party leader to form a government.
A cabinet of ministers stays in power until the next general election or a new government is formed. The ministers sit in Althingi, but only those elected have the right to vote in parliament.
The president of Iceland is elected by direct popular vote for a term of four years, with no term limit. Gender equality is something Icelanders strive to uphold and in 1980 Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected president of Iceland. She was born April 15th 1930 and served as the fourth President of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. In addition to being both Iceland's and Europe's first female president, she was the world's first democratically elected female head of state. With a presidency of exactly sixteen years, she also remains the longest-serving, elected female head of state of any country to date. Icelanders are tolerant and openly welcome diversity, in 2009 Johanna Sigurdardottir became Iceland's first female Prime Minister and the world's first openly lesbian head of government on 1 February 2009.
The establishment of the Republic of Iceland formally took place at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) on June 171944. At 13:30, the prime minister, Björn Þórðarson, officially set the celebrations, after which a Christian mass was held. The new Icelandic flag of the Republic of Iceland was raised, and the members ofAlthingi (parliament) rose from their seats, as church bells rang.
Five people have held the office of president of Iceland since Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 1944. Sveinn Björnsson was the only President to die in office. Ásgeir Ásgeirsson was the first President elected by popular vote. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the first elected female president in the world. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was former populist politician who became president and is the only president to use the authorization to force a national referendum on a law from Althingi the Icelandic parliament.
The President of Iceland is elected by direct popular vote for a term of four years, with no term limit.
The Icelandic constitution is very similar to the Danish constitution and some articles have even been copied and translated over to Icelandic.
In the Icelandic presidential elections in 1980 Vigdis Vinnbogadottir faced three well-known male opponents. It certainly was an uphill battle for the first woman ever to become a candidate for the Icelandic presidency.