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Icelandic Pirate Party's coalition talks run aground

Piratir's policy cutlass is still sharp as President tells Alþingi to find any port in a storm

Iceland's Pirate Party is still in with a chance of profoundly influencing Icelandic politics, after a second set of coalition talks collapsed over the weekend.

Piratir, to use its Icelandic name, topped opinion polls ahead of the nation's October parliamentary elections, but emerged with about 15 per cent of the vote and ten seats in the Alþingi.

No party emerged with a majority after the election, but the nation's president offered the Independence Party the chance to form government as its 22 seats represented the largest single bloc. Independence could not form a government, so president Guðni Th. Jóhannesson asked the Left-Green Movement if it could do so.

That option looked promising as the Left-Greens also won ten seats, share many positions with the Pirate Party and had an affinity with a party called Bright Future (four seats) and the Social Democratic Alliance (three). If it could win over a new party called Regeneration, and its seven seats a coalition looked possible.

But those talks also failed. The Pirate Party let it be known the stumbling block was not its policies of more public participation in law-making and the restoration of public health services. Disputes over fishing rights appear to have sunk the deal.

President Jóhannesson has now said he won't ask any party leader to form government, instead telling all parliamentarians to just hurry up and get a government formed because Iceland will be better off with a working parliament.

As the equal-second-largest party in the Alþingi, the Pirate Party therefore retains a strong bargaining position. The party has consistently said it does not seek power or even ministries, but is interested in finding ways to advance its policies.

President Jóhannesson urging Iceland's elected representatives to find a way to get down to some serious governing, Piratir has an opportunity to board government and make off with some policy plunder. ®

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