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Icelandic voters elect female-majority parliament as PM retains power

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Iceland has elected a female-majority parliament, a landmark for gender equality in the North Atlantic island nation.

After all votes were counted on Sunday, female candidates held 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing.

The three parties in the outgoing coalition government led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir won a total of 37 seats in Saturday’s vote, two more than in the last election, and appeared likely to continue in power.

The milestone for women comes despite a poor outcome for parties on the left, where female candidates are more often frontrunners.

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Politics professor Silja Bara Omarsdottir said the gender quotas implemented by left-leaning parties for the past decade had managed to create a new norm across Iceland’s political spectrum.

“It is no longer acceptable to ignore gender equality when selecting candidates,” she said.

Opinion polls had suggested a victory for left-leaning parties in the unpredictable election, which saw 10 parties competing for seats.

But the centre-right Independence Party took the largest share of votes, winning 16 seats, seven of them held by women.

The centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest gain, winning 13 seats, five more than last time.

Before the election, the two parties formed Iceland’s three-party coalition government, together with Jakobsdottir’s Left Green Party.

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Her party lost several seats, but kept eight, outscoring poll predictions.

The three ruling parties haven’t announced whether they will work together for another term, but given the strong support from voters it appears likely.

It will take days, if not weeks, for a new government to be formed and announced.

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