What were the voters thinking? The presidential election in Iceland 2012


  • Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson
  • Indriði H. Indriðason
  • Viktor Orri Valgarðsson




Presidential election, Iceland, personality factors, party effects, tactical voting.


Social scientists have not done much research on presidential elections in Iceland and therefore little is known about the factors which affect their results. The presidential election on June 30th 2012 was unusual partly because the incumbent president faced more serious opponents and received a lower share of the votes than ever before and partly because the campaign was characterized by more debate about the nature of the office itself than ever before. This article examines the factors that affected the outcome of the election. The findings indicate that voters in general were more preoccupied with personal factors,such as perceived competence, image and honesty, than with the issues or the political opinions of the candidates, although it appears that voters of the two leading candidates had very different perceptions of the role of the president. It seems likely that voters’ attitudes towards the government were the strongest factor affecting the election results. Candidates with a small following were adversely affected by tactical voting but it is unlikely to have had an impact on the outcome of the election.

Author Biographies

Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson

Professor at the University of Iceland.

Indriði H. Indriðason

Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Riverside.

Viktor Orri Valgarðsson

Post-graduate student at the University of Iceland.



How to Cite

Kristinsson, G. H., Indriðason, I. H., & Valgarðsson, V. O. (2012). What were the voters thinking? The presidential election in Iceland 2012. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 8(2), 221–244. https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2012.8.2.2



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