Iceland President Will Not Run Again

Iceland president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has announced he will not run for an unprecedented sixth term, after leaked documents showed his wife hid parts of her considerable fortune in offshore accounts.

Iceland can now “successfully choose a new president and I am, after being at Bessastaðir [the presidential residence] for a long time, ready in my heart and soul to happily move on to new tasks,” Grímsson said in his announcement on May 9.

Historian Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Historian Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Grímsson, who has been president for the last 20 years, said he would not seek re-election last year. But the political upheaval caused by the Panama Papers forced him to reverse his decision, arguing that the country needed stability in a time of crisis.

Grímsson quickly became the odds-on favorite to win re-election for a sixth time this summer, a first in Icelandic political history. Then a document leak from Swiss bank HSBC on May 2 and another revelation from the Panama Papers showed that his wife, British jeweler Dorrit Moussaieff, held large parts of her considerable fortune through a complex web of offshore accounts and trusts.

A new poll released the day before Grímsson announced he would not seek re-election showed his popularity had suffered greatly. Historian Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was beating him by more than 2-to-1 in the survey, and former PM Davíð Oddsson showed considerable gains.

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