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Viewing cable 08REYKJAVIK1, ICELAND: PRESIDENT GRIMSSON ANNOUNCES HIS RE-ELECTION BID

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08REYKJAVIK1 2008-01-02 17:05 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO3765
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRK #0001 0021723
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021723Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3534
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000001 
 
SIPDIS 
 
C O R R E C T E D  C O P Y (CAPTIONS ADDED) 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IC
 
SUBJECT:  ICELAND: PRESIDENT GRIMSSON ANNOUNCES HIS RE-ELECTION BID 
FOR A FOURTH TERM 
 
 
1.  (U) Summary:  Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson 
announced in his televised New Year's Day Address that he will run 
for a fourth term as President of Iceland in the presidential 
election on June 28. By doing so, he has put on hold any aspirations 
of taking a high-level international office. Both politicians and 
the public have reacted rather positively to the news, and, in the 
absence of any political controversy involving Grimsson, he is set 
to win the election this summer. End Summary. 
 
2.  (U) Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland and Head of 
State but not Government, quieted any rumors in his New Year's Day 
address that he would not be running for the fourth term as 
President in this year's election. If re-elected, Grimsson would be 
the third President to have served a fourth four-year term, for a 
total of sixteen years. 
 
3.  (U) Rumors had been flying that Grimsson was either going to run 
for election again or make a career change.  There was speculation 
that Grimsson might take a high-profile international job, for 
example, with the United Nations. An English-language biography, 
that was slated to be published before Christmas, has been put on 
hold indefinitely. The biography, probably intended to raise 
Grimsson's international profile, was widely construed as 
preparation for a career change. 
 
4.  (U) The chairmen and spokespersons of the five major political 
parties said that Grimsson's announcement did not come as a 
surprise. Steingrimur J. Sigfusson, Chairman of the Left-Green 
Movement, said that he likes the idea of limiting the President's 
tenure to two six-year terms. The chairmen and spokesmen of the 
other four parties do not agree with Sigfusson, but Thorgerdur 
Katrin Gunnarsdottir, the Deputy Chairman of the Independence Party, 
says that perhaps the constitutional role of the President should be 
revised. 
 
5.  (U) The January 2 editorial in Morgunbladid, Iceland's 
newspaper-of-record, said that Grimsson is somewhat eager to regain 
the trust that he lost in the 2004 presidential election. Voter 
turnout in the 2004 election was only 62.9 percent, out of which 20 
percent were empty ballots, or protest votes. Note: In parliamentary 
elections the voter turnout ranges between 80 and 90 percent. End 
Note. The editorialist added that the 2004 election results should 
not have come as a surprise because Grimsson had taken steps to 
politicize the Presidency. Since the office has become more 
controversial under Grimsson, the editorialist said that it begs the 
question whether term limits should be imposed as is customary in 
other countries. 
 
6.  (SBU) Comment:  There is no limit on how many times one can run 
for President in Iceland. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson has been relatively 
popular across the political spectrum as President and his 
announcement to run for the fourth time has been generally welcomed. 
An incumbent President has always won a re-election, and therefore 
it is almost certain that he will win the election on June 28 even 
if he is challenged. If there are no other contenders then he will 
win automatically. In the last election in 2004 more votes than ever 
before were empty ballots, or protest votes, which was most likely 
due to Grimsson's controversial move not to sign a hotly contested 
law on media ownership. Barring any such contentious spectacle, 
Grimsson's re-election is a near certainty. End Comment. 
 
KLOPFENSTEIN