Iceland's PM calls for new election after junior partner quits gov't

Sigríður Á Andersen

Iceland government collapses over paedophile furore

A uproar over a paedophile's links to Iceland's Prime Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, has led to the collapse of the country's ruling coalition.

Opposition groups such as the Left-Green Movement and the Pirates party have now called for an election in the wake of the government's collapse.

Last night, the Bright Future party withdrew from government after it was revealed that Benediktsson's father had written a letter vouching for the character of a convicted child molester so that he could apply for "restored honour", or a legal clean slate.

According to the Reykjavik Grapevine, the sex offender in question was Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson, who was convicted of raping his stepdaughter nearly daily for 12 years.

Mr Benediktsson told Sky News this week that the United Kingdom should have taken stronger action against bankers involved in the financial crisis and he was surprised that it had not followed his country's example jailing senior bankers.

The outgoing government would be the shortest-living in Iceland's history.

The prime minister added that he was seeking to hold snap election this November.

The Bright Future party has four seats in Iceland's parliament, the Althingi.

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It was unclear whether Benediktsson, a former finance minister who was also named in the Panama Papers as having held a stake in a Seychelles-based investment company, will seek to form a new coalition or will call early elections in the Nordic nation.

Now it looks as though Iceland is heading towards another election, less than a year after the last tumultuous election campaign which revolved around a different type of scandal.

The Ministry of Justice, under Sigridur Andersen, a member of Mr Benediktsson's Independence Party, initially refused to disclose who had written the letter of recommendation.

Sveinsson has since apologised for his behavior, saying that the letter had been drafted by the convicted sex offender and that he had merely signed it.

All that is required for "restoring honour" is a letter of recommendation from a close friend.

But Benediktsson neglected to inform Bright Future and Reform Party leaders of the letter until Monday, according to RUV.

"What was supposed to be a small gesture of good will towards a convicted criminal has instead turned into a continuation of the tragedy for his victim".

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