Forsetakjör - 01.11.1997, Blaðsíða 24

Forsetakjör - 01.11.1997, Blaðsíða 24
22 Forsetakjör 1996 7. English summary 1. Background to the presidential election of 1996 According to the Constitution of 17 June 1944 the President of Iceland shall be elected by a direct popular vote for a period of four years, commencing 1 August of the election year. According to the Presidential Elections Act, this shall take place every four years on the last Saturday of June. From the establishment of the Republic on 17 June, 1944, and until 1 August, 1996, four persons had held the office of President of Iceland. The first President of Iceland, Mr Sveinn Bjömsson (1882- 1952), was elected for a one-year term by the Althingi at the same time as the Republic was re-established on 17 June 1944. His re-election was uncontested both in 1945 and 1949, and he served as President until his death. Mr Ásgeir Ásgeirsson (1894-1972) was elected the second President of Iceland in 1952 and re-elected unopposed in 1956,1960 and 1964. Mr Kristján Eldjám (1916-1982) was elected the third President of Iceland in 1968 and was uncontested in 1972 and 1976. Ms Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the fourth President of Iceland(b. 15 April 1930), servedinthisofficeforfourterms. She was first elected in the presidential election of 29 June 1980. In 1984 and 1992 her re-election was uncontested and, in accordance with the Constitution, no ballot was held. In 1988, however, another candidate stood for election, the first and only time a serving president has been contested. A presidential election took place, therefore, on 25 June 1988 and Ms Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was re-elected for the period 1 August 1988 to 31 July 1992. In her New Year address in 1996, Ms Vigdís Finnbogadóttir announced that she would not seek re-election for the term commencing 1 August 1996. According to the Presidential Elections Act, the Prime Minister shall announce when an election is due to take place, stating the minimum and maximum number of supporters which each candidate needs to demonstrate in each of the quarters of the country. A presidential candidate shall enjoy the support of at least 1,500 and at most 3,000 persons who qualify as voters in the forthcoming election. The number of supporters in each quarter of the country depends on the number of voters there, as follows: Minimum Sunnlendingafjórðungur (Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla-Borgar- Maximum fjarðarsýsla) Vestfirðingafjórðungur 1,141 2,282 (Mýrasýsla-Strandasýsla) Norðlendingafjórðungur (Vestur-Húnavatnssýsla-Suður- 88 176 Þingeyjarsýsla) Austfirðingafjórðungur (Norður-Þingeyjarsýsla-Austur- 194 387 Skaftafellssýsla) 77 155 Any person 35 years of age or older is eligible for the Presidency, provided the requirements for the voting right in general elections are met. Domicile in Iceland, however, is not a condition. On 18 March 1996 the Prime Minister announced that a presidential election was to be held on 29 June 1996. The announcement stipulated that a declaration of candidature together with the required documents must be in the hands of the Ministry of Justice not later than five weeks before election day. On 28 May the Ministry announced that five eligible candidates were standing for the Presidency in the coming election:1 Mr Ástþór Magnússon Wium (b. 1953) Ms Guðrún Agnarsdóttir, Doctor of Medicine (b. 1941) Ms Guðrún Pétursdóttir, Director, (b. 1950) Mr Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Member of the Althingi (b. 1943) Mr Pétur Kr. Hafstein, Judge of the Supreme Court (b. 1949). On 19 June Guðrún Pétursdóttir announced that she was withdrawing her candidature. The election, therefore, was between the four remaining candidates. According to the Presidential Elections Act, the President shall be elected in a direct ballot by those who are eligible to vote in general elections. Moreover, the election shall be conducted in accordance with the General Elections Act, with the exception that the Supreme Court is entrusted with the functions which otherwise are the responsibility of the National Electoral Committee. The preparation of electoral rolls is the responsibility of local govemments. They are to be available for inspection by the public not later than 10 days before the election. 2. Suffrage and the number ofvoters on the electoral roll The right to vote in general elections and presidential elec- tions is extended to all persons who are 18 years of age and over on election day, hold Icelandic citizenship and are domiciled in Iceland or have been so within the last eight years up to 1 December prior to election day. A citizen who has emigrated from Iceland before this time limit may also have the right to vote, subject to an application to be taken on the electoral roll. The number of voters registered on the electoral roll for the presidential election of 29 June 1996 was 194,705, corre- sponding to 72.4% of the population, which is estimated to have totalled 268,900 at the end of June 1996. Summary 1 shows the number of voters on the electoral roll in general elections since the Althingi regained legislative power in 1874, in the referenda in 1918 and 1944, and in presidential elections 1952-1996. The rules governing the right to vote in general elections also applied to the referenda of 1918 (on the Danish-Icelandic Union Act) and 1944 (on the abrogation of the Danish-Icelandic Union Treaty and on the Constitution of the Republic), and in the presidential elections of 1952, 1968, 1980 and 1988. Furthermore, these rules were applied 1 In the following text and in the summaries and tables, the names of candidates are in alphabetic order by first name according to Icelandic custom.



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