Political newcomer and history professor Gudni Johannesson claimed victory in Saturday’s presidential election in Iceland, after early results showed him garnering 37.8% of votes.
“All the votes have not been counted, but I think we have won,” Johannesson told supporters after 32% of ballots had been counted.
Johannesson, a 47-year-old history professor and political commentator who has no party affiliation, was trailed by businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir, also non-partisan, who was credited with 29.9% of votes.
David Oddsson, a former conservative prime minister and central bank governor who had been Johannesson’s closest rival throughout most of the campaign, was on 13.2% of votes.
The role of president is largely ceremonial, acting as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity.
Johannesson dominated the election campaign from the start, riding a wave of anti-establishment sentiment after the so-called Panama Papers scandal in April tarnished some of the country’s political elite.
The leaked documents, which detailed offshore accounts, implicated several senior Icelandic politicians, including the prime minister who was forced to resign amid public outrage.
Throughout the campaign, Johannesson emphasised his independent vision of the presidency, appealing to voters with his calm nature and consensus-oriented approach, and vowing to restore their faith in the political system.
He also vowed to modernise political life and give voters more of a voice by, among other things, introducing citizen-initiated referendums.
More important legislative elections are expected in the autumn. The date has yet to be set for that vote.