Electoral politics after the crisis: Change, fluctuations and stability in the 2021 Althingi Election

Agnar Freyr Helgason, Ólafur Þ. Harðarson, Jón Gunnar Ólafsson, Eva H. Önnudóttir, Hulda Þórisdóttir


We present an analysis of the 2021 Althingi election in Iceland based on several key indicators obtained from the post-election voter survey of the Icelandic National Election Study (ICENES). The overall question we seek to address concerns the degree to which Icelandic politics have continued to move towards either recovery or transformation after the political and economic upheavals of 2008. The 2021 campaign and election were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the government enjoyed high support across the political spectrum for its handling of the outbreak and its economic consequences. The election resulted in the coalition parties increasing their vote share by 1.5 percentage points. Based on the ICENES data, we find that 45% of voters switched parties in 2021, compared with 2017, which is slightly lower than in previous elections. On the issue dimensions of state–market and integration–isolation, we observe a sharp return towards more pro-market and pro-integration attitudes, respectively. Trust in politicians and satisfaction with how democracy works continued to increase from an all-time low in 2009. We also observe that the youngest age groups continued to be least likely to vote, spent less time following the campaign and were more inclined to follow news on social media. We conclude that Icelandic politics seem to have reached a balance after the crisis, albeit a new balance that is characterised by a more fragmented party system than before.


Icelandic politics; elections; political behaviour; vote choice.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2022.18.1.1


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