Iceland's presidential vote overshadowed by Euro 2016 success

Votes were being tallied Saturday evening in Iceland in a presidential election that had been eclipsed by a national fervour surrounding the Icelandic football team's success in the Euro 2016.

The Interior Ministry said it has set up a polling station in France near the national football team's camp in Annecy, where fans have followed their team into the knockout stage of the championship.

A record nine candidates were in the running, with polls clearly favouring independent candidate Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson, a historian specializing on the presidency of Iceland. Early returns showed Johannesson in the lead with nearly 39 per cent of the vote.

About 240,000 voters were eligible to vote for a successor to Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who is stepping down after 20 years in office.

While largely playing a ceremonial role, the president does influence the formation of government.

Johannesson won public acclaim for television appearances in April when he commented on events before and after then-premier Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned over leaked data in the Panama Papers suggesting he and his wife had an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. Both denied wrongdoing.

The historian told dpa the election campaign was a "new and exciting" experience for him.

Other main contenders are author Andri Snaer Magnason, and former conservative premier David Oddsson, who also served as head of the central bank.

Last update: Sun, 26/06/2016 - 01:23

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