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Althingi (Parliament)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Althingi / Parliament
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Structure of parliament Unicameral
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1951 -
President Steingrímur J. Sigfússon (M) 
Notes Elected on 14 Dec. 2017.
Secretary General Helgi Bernódusson (M) 
Members (statutory / current number) 63 / 63

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Women (current number) 24 (38.10%)
Mode of designation directly elected 63
Term 4 years
Last renewal dates 28 October 2017
(View details)
Address Althingi
Parliament House,
150 Reykjavík
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (354) 563 0500
Fax (354) 563 0910
E-mail hbern@althingi.is


Parliament name (generic / translated) Althingi / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Electoral law 16 May 2000
last amendment to the electoral law: 26.03.2003
Mode of designation directly elected 63
Constituencies Multi member constituencies of10 to 11 seats each. The exact number and boundaries of constituencies are determined by the Electoral Law.
Voting system Proportional: Party list system using closed party lists.
Fifty four of the 63 seats are allocated on the basis of constituency results (d'Hondt). The nine remaining seats are supplementary seats attached to particular constituencies. Supplementary seats are allocated according to the d'Hondt method, in order to give each party a number of seats in proportion to its share of the national vote. A party must win 5% of the national vote to obtain a supplementary seat. Vacancies arising between general elections are filled by deputy members (substitutes) elected at the same time as titular members, in the order of their appearance on the party list in question.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - age: 18 years
- Icelandic citizenship
- legal residence in the country (citizens legally residing abroad and having resided in Iceland for some time can also vote under certain conditions)
Eligibility Qualified electors
- age: 18 years
- Icelandic citizenship (citizens of "unblemished character")
Incompatibilities - Supreme Court judges
- Ombudsman
- President of the Republic
Candidacy requirements - each party list of candidates must be supported by a given number of electors; the number needed is 30 to 40 times the number of representatives of the constituency in question


Parliament name (generic / translated) Althingi / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 28 October 2017
Timing and scope of renewal Snap elections in 2017, held only one year after the previous elections, returned another fragmented Parliament. Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson's Independence Party (IP) remained the largest party in the 63-member Parliament, taking 16 seats, down from 21. Its coalition partner, the Reform Party also lost seats, taking four, while its former coalition partner, Bright Future, failed to win parliamentary representation. The Left-Green Movement (LGM), led by Ms. Katrín Jakobsdóttir (LGM), remained the second largest party. Former Prime Minister David Gunnlaugsson returned to parliament under the banner of the Centre Party, instead of the Progressive Party (PP). Fewer women were elected in 2017: 24 women (38.10%), down from 30 (47.62%) in 2016.

After a few weeks of coalition talks with various partners, on 29 November, Ms. Katrín Jakobsdóttir (LGM) announced she would form a coalition government with the IP and the PP. Two LGM members did not support the coalition, meaning it controlled 33 seats in all. On 30 November, the new coalition government under Ms. Jakobsdóttir was sworn in. Mr. Benediktsson became the Finance Minister.

The 2017 snap elections were triggered by the collapse of the coalition government, when Bright Future left the coalition citing a breach of confidence, following a scandal involving the Prime Minister's father. On 18 September, President Gudni Johannesson accepted Prime Minister Benediktsson's request to dissolve Parliament, paving the way for snap elections in October. During the election campaign, the major parties focused on the economy, promising to increase public spending. However, they differed on the method. The LGM, which also campaigned on a platform of restoring trust in government, said it would raise taxes on the wealthy, real estate and the fishing industry, while the IP said it would borrow money from the banking sector to fund infrastructure projects.
Date of previous elections: 29 October 2016

Date of dissolution of the outgoing legislature: 27 October 2017

Timing of election: Early elections

Expected date of next elections: October 2021

Number of seats at stake: 63 (full renewal)

Number of candidates: 1,244 (689 men, 555 women)

Percentage of women candidates: 44.6%

Number of parties contesting the election: 11

Number of parties winning seats: 8

Alternation of power: Yes

Number of parties in government: 3

Names of parties in government: Left-Green Movement (LGM), Independence Party (IP), the Progressive Party (PP)

Date of the first session of the new parliament: 14 December 2017

Name of the new Speaker: Mr. Steingrímur J. Sigfússon (Left-Green Movement, LGM)
Voter turnout
Round no 128 October 2017
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
201'777 (81.2%)

Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Independence Party (IP)
Left - Green Movement (LGM)
Progressive Party (PP)
Social Democratic Alliance (SDA)
Centre Party
Pirate Party
People's Party
Reform Party
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats
Independence Party (IP) 16
Left - Green Movement (LGM) 11
Progressive Party (PP) 8
Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) 7
Centre Party 7
Pirate Party 6
People's Party 4
Reform Party 4
Distribution of seats according to sex


Percent of women


Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Parliament (31.10.2017, 03.11.2017, 30.11.2017, 15.12.2017)
Ministry of Justice (08.11.2017)


Parliament name (generic / translated) Althingi / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Title Speaker of the Althingi
Term - duration: 1 session (from 1 October to 30 September), renewable. In practice, the President of the Althingi is usually re-elected during the legislature.
- reasons for interruption of the term: the President may resign his office if permitted by the majority, or be discharged by a two-thirds majority of members of parliament
- in the period between the election and the convening of a new Parliament, he/she is the highest authority in administrative matters.
Appointment - Any member of parliament can nominate another member for the presidency, so long as the latter does not object. To be duly elected, the president must receive more than half of votes cast at the meeting. The election takes place at the beginning of each session, after the members' mandates have been validated and they have been sworn in.
Eligibility - any Member may be candidate and formal notification of candidature is required before the election
Voting system - formal vote by secret ballot
- in order to win in the first round, the candidate must obtain more than half of the votes cast
- should no candidate receive the required number of votes in the first round of voting, a second round of voting is held between the two candidates who received the greatest number of votes.
Should both candidates receive an equal number of votes, the President is chosen by lot.
- if more than two candidates receive the same number of votes, two candidates are selected from among them by lot.
Procedures / results - the longest-serving member of parliament presides over the Assembly during the voting. If two or more members have served for an equal number of years, the oldest has seniority.
- the longest-serving member supervises the voting and announces the result immediately after the election
- the result can be challenged
Status - According to practice, the President of the Althingi ranks third in the hierarchy of the State, after the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister
- the President of the Althingi, the Prime Minister and the President of the Supreme Court exercise presidential authority jointly if the President of the Republic is unable to perform his duties
- the President of the Althingi presides at meetings of the above
- the President represents the Assembly to the public authorities
- the Vice-President replaces the President in his/her absence
Board - the Presidium is regulated by the Standing Orders of Althingi (Althingi Procedure Act)
- it is composed of the President and his/her 6 Vice-Presidents
- it meets once a week, except during the summer recess and Christmas holiday - the President can also call extraordinary meetings
- the Presidium works as a collegiate body - in the event of disagreement in the Presidium, the President has the deciding vote
Material facilities - allowance similar to a Cabinet Minister
- official car
- assistance of the Secretary General's staff
Organization of parliamentary business - establishes and modifies the agenda
- organizes the debates and sets speaking time
Chairing of public sittings - opens, adjourns and closes sittings
- ensures respect for provisions of the Constitution and Standing Orders
- makes announcements concerning the Assembly
- takes disciplinary measures in the event of disturbance, and lifts such measures
- establishes the list of speakers, gives and withdraws permission to speak
- calls for a vote, decides how it is to be carried out, verifies the voting procedure and cancels a vote in the event of irregularities
- checks the quorum
- authenticates the adopted texts and the records of debates
- interprets the rules or other regulations governing the life of the Assembly according to precedents
- has discretionary power to give the floor outside the agenda and thus organizes impromptu debates
Special powers - makes a proposal of budget to the Praesidum
- recruits, assigns and promotes staff with the recommendations of the Secretary General
- makes a proposal to the Praesidium which appoints a Secretary General for a term of 6 years
- organizes the services of Parliament
- is responsible for relations with foreign Parliaments
- is responsible for safety
Speaking and voting rights, other functions - takes the floor in legislative debates as a Member and the Vice-President chairs the Assembly
- takes part in voting
- proposes bills or amendments
- sends bills adopted by the Assembly to the Government


Parliament name (generic / translated) Althingi / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Nature of the mandate Free representation (Constitution Act, art. 48)
Start of the mandate When the election is over and the results have been announced. Certain rights only accrue to MPs when their election has been validated and they have pledged to uphold the Constitution (Constitution Act, art. 46 and 47 and Standing Orders of Althingi, arts. 1 and 2).
Validation of mandates Validation by the Althingi (Constitution Act, art. 46) on the recommendation of a committee (Standing Orders of Althingi, art. 1)
End of the mandate On the day of new elections (Constitution Act, art. 24); the same applies in the event of early dissolution.
Can MPs resign? Yes N/A
Can MPs lose their mandate ? Yes N/A
Rank in hierarchy N/A
Indemnities, facilities and services Basic salary + living allowance
Pension scheme
Official passport
Work-related postal services
Free telephone
Domestic travel
International travel approved by the President of the Althingi
Obligation to declare personal assets No
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary non-accountability MPs cannot be held accountable outside parliament for words spoken in parliament, unless the Althingi gives its consent.
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary inviolability MPs cannot be taken into custody or to court during a parliamentary session without parliamentary consent, unless they are caught in flagrante delicto.
Training Introduction to the Secretariat by Althingi officials; Handbook on the workings of the Althingi, services, compensation and various rules and regulations; Standing Orders of Althingi
Participation in the work of the Parliament MPs are required to attend plenary sittings and committee meetings unless unable to attend. There are no penalties for non-compliance.
Discipline The rules governing parliamentary discipline are contained in the Standing Orders of Althingi, arts. 59 and 89: adjournment or closing of the sitting in the case of a general disturbance; reprimand (if an MP has been reprimanded twice during the same sitting, the President of the Althingi may, with Parliament's consent, take away the MP's speaking rights for the duration of the sitting).
Code (rules) of conduct N/A
Relations between MPs and pressure group There are no legal provisions in this field.

This page was last updated on 16 January 2018
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