Iceland: Pirate Party invited to form government, supports investigation of BI

By Kate McFarland

Basic Income Earth Network

The Icelandic Pirate Party — which has proposed to launch an investigation into ways to implement an unconditional basic income in Iceland — has been granted the authority to form the country’s next government.

Iceland’s Pirate Party (Píratar) gained seven seats in Iceland’s parliament (Alþingi) in the October 2016 general election (which was held a year early, after the Prime Minister resigned in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks). This put the party in third place in parliamentary representation, behind the center-right Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement. 

In Iceland’s political system, the president invites the leader of the winning political party to negotiate with the other parties to select new members of the government. If the party does not succeed, the president passes the mandate to the second most dominant party, and so on. In this case, neither the Independence Party nor the Left-Green Movement succeeded in negotiations; thus, on December 2, President Guðni Jóhannesson handed the mandate to form the government to Pirate Party leader MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

This marks the first time — in any country — that the authority to form a government has been handed to a party officially committed to investigate the possibility of basic income. 

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