Reykjavik (AFP) – Katrin Jakobsdottir, who began her second term as Prime Minister of Iceland on Sunday, is a popular and fervent feminist who has become a unifying force after years of political upheaval.
The country’s three coalition parties have agreed that the 45-year-old former journalist will remain prime minister, a post she has held since 2017, despite the poor performance of her Left-Green movement in the legislative elections in September.
This simple fact illustrates the central role of Jakobsdottir in the unusually large coalition, made up of his Greens-Left, the Conservative Independence Party and the Center-Right Progressive Party.
The unlikely alliance was difficult for some members of his party to accept.
“I know I have been criticized for it, but when I look back I think this government has done a good job and I think it has really shown what is possible in politics,” he said. she told AFP in a recent interview.
Jakobsdottir won over Icelanders with his integrity, sincerity and consensual management style.
Nearly 60% said they wanted her to remain prime minister, in a poll released in October, even though her party won just 12.6% of the vote at the polls.
Former education minister, from 2009 to 2013, she remained down to earth and avoided scandal during her years in power, gaining the trust of the people according to analysts.
“Katrin Jakobsdottir is a very qualified politician (who) has more of a consensual than confrontational style,” notes Olafur Hardarson, professor of political science at the University of Iceland.
This is only the second time since 2008 that a government has come to the end of its four-year mandate on the sprawling island of 370,000 people.
Deep public distrust of politicians amid repeated scandals sent Icelanders to the polls five times from 2007 to 2017.
However, retaining power came at a high price, as Jakobsdottir was forced to make concessions on key issues such as immigration and the environment during his first term.
She had to give up on a promise to create a national park in the center of the country, to protest against a natural national treasure, after her two allies refused to support the legislation.
Football and books
Born into a family of academics and lawmakers, Jakobsdottir is the second woman to head the Icelandic government.
His concern for the environment was awakened in the 2000s by a controversial project to build a hydroelectric dam in eastern Iceland.
“I wouldn’t say I was the most radical activist in town, but yes, I started my political involvement with protests,” she told US magazine The Nation in 2018.
She joined the youth wing of the Left Green Movement in 2002, before becoming deputy leader a year later. She has been the head of the party since 2013.
The slim, athletic politician has been a member of Parliament for 14 years.
A big football fan, she has been attached to Liverpool FC since she was a child.
It creates a sometimes tense atmosphere in her Reykjavik apartment, where her husband and three sons are all Manchester United supporters.
“I clearly did not raise my children well enough,” she joked on a radio show earlier this year, blaming her husband who spent more time with their children because of his job as a caregiver. busy time.
In a country that champions gender equality, she has made women’s causes a priority. Among other things, she extended parental leave.
His friends are quick to point out his funny side.
“With her sense of humor and her jokes, she can make a room feel comfortable,” says former party member Rosa Bjork Brynjolfsdottir, who studied with her at university.
A graduate of Icelandic and French studies and a Masters in Icelandic Literature, Jakobsdottir is a fan of detective novels and fiction, finding time to read almost every day.
“It’s like kind of therapy at the end of the day,” she said, revealing last year that she was working on her first detective novel with a local author.
© 2021 AFP