Historian and political newcomer Gudni Johannesson has claimed victory in Iceland’s presidential election, BBC reports. With 32% of votes counted, Mr Johannesson had won 37.8%, broadcaster RUV said, ahead of businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir on 29.9%.
“All the votes have not been counted, but I think we have won,” Mr Johannesson said. Mr Johannesson was widely tipped to replace Olafur Ragnar rímsson, who has held the office since 1996. He told supporters he would make a great effort to be the unifying force that Icelanders want and deserve.
About 10% of the island’s population is thought to be in France watching the country’s footballers at Euro 2016. Mr Johannesson said his first task as president would be to fly to France, to cheer on the team in their second round match against England on Monday.
The Icelandic consulate in France flew ballot papers to the football team’s hotel in Annecy so that the players could vote on Saturday. However there were no such arrangements for Icelandic fans in France and that could mean a voter turnout of under 65%, low for the Nordic nation, local reports say.
Iceland’s presidency is a largely ceremonial post. The election comes amid disenchantment with the political elite, some of whom were alleged to hold offshore accounts in the Panama Papers investigation into tax evasion.
The scandal forced the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson. Mr Johannesson, 47, is an expert on political history, diplomacy and the constitution, and has not said which political party he supports.
He says he is an ordinary father who likes to read, jog and play football and has also translated four books by US horror writer Stephen King.