Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson has asked center-left Social Democratic Alliance Party leader Ingibjorg Gisladottir to create a new coalition with the Left-Green movement to replace the government of Geir Haarde that collapsed Monday, AP reports.  Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir is expected to serve as the interim prime minister until new elections are held in May.

As Kim McLaughlin notes for Reuters, “Iceland’s ruling coalition collapsed under pressure from sometimes violent demonstrations, the first world government to fall as a direct result of the global economic crisis.”  Telegraph diplomatic editor David Blair provides some background:

The island’s administration collapsed after talks on forming a new coalition failed. Geir Haarde, the outgoing prime minister, had already been forced to call new elections for May 9 and announce that he will not contest this poll.

The onset of a global recession is damaging governments across Europe, notably in Greece where rioters filled the streets earlier this month. But Iceland’s leaders are the first political casualties of Europe’s economic travails.

The government which Mr Haarde had hoped to lead until the election has now been formally dissolved. His Independence Party, which presently holds 25 of the 63 seats in parliament, was ruling in coalition with the Social Democratic Alliance. This Left-wing party had demanded the premiership and the leadership of the government during the negotiations to remake the coalition. Mr Haarde, who is also suffering from cancer, chose simply to resign rather than accept.

As noted yesterday, there have been rioting in demonstrations throughout eastern Europe in response to the crisis.  Thus far, Iceland has been alone in the west.  We shall see if that continues as the crisis continues to unfold.

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.



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