Gudni Johannesson wins Iceland’s presidential election

Gudni Johannesson, a history professor, has won Iceland’s presidential election in a vote held in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak in April, which implicated several senior Icelandic positions.

The political newcomer only decided to run for the presidency after the leak and rode a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, emphasising his non-partisan, independent vision of the presidency.

The victory, which he won with 39.1% of the vote, came as the academic celebrated his 48th birthday on Sunday.

Halla Tomasdottir, a businesswoman without party affiliation, came second with 27.9%.

The president in Iceland holds a largely ceremonial position, acting as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity. Legislative elections are due in the autumn.

Johannesson will now replace Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, 73, after 20 years as head of state.

David Oddsson, a former conservative prime minister and central bank governor who had been Johannesson’s closest rival throughout most of the campaign, garnered just 13%.

The outrage that fuelled mass street protests in April and led to the ousting of prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson appeared to have dissipated somewhat in the final days of the campaign, as euphoria erupted over the Icelandic football squad achieving a historic feat in the Euro 2016 football tournament.

A North Atlantic island of just 334,000 people, Iceland beat Austria 2-1 on Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 in its first major international competition, and will face England on Monday.

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