Iceland's defiant president eyes record fifth term

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2012 7:40 PM
Iceland's defiant president eyes record fifth term

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland's president Olafur Grimsson looks set to win a record fifth term in office, riding a wave of support for his defiance of Britain and the Netherlands over massive debts from a bank crash, initial election results showed on Saturday.

Grimsson, 69, who also opposes joining the European Union, had led in recent opinion polls in the run-up to the elections, ahead of Thora Arnorsdottir, 37, a local television journalist.

A first tally of 20 percent of the votes showed Grimsson with 52.5 percent while Arnorsdottir, got 33.2 percent. The Icelandic presidential election is a single round with the candidate with the most votes winning a four-year term.

Grimsson's key moments in office have been his vetoes of bills approved by the centre-left government in parliament to pay about $5 billion to compensate Britain and the Netherlands after they bailed out local savers who had money frozen in accounts in an Icelandic bank when it collapsed in 2008.

The vetoes angered the British and Dutch and trade body EFTA has taken Iceland to court.

Still, the president's decisions were overwhelmingly approved by Icelanders in referendums and have boosted the popularity of the former left-wing political strongman.

(Reporting by Omar Valdimarsson; writing by Niklas Pollard; editing by Todd Eastham)