Seeking clean slate, Icelanders elect historian as new president

REYKJAVIK Icelanders elected historian Gudni Johannesson on Saturday as their first new president in 20 years, amid distrust of politicians and business leaders after the 2008 global financial crisis and the Panama papers scandal.

The final count showed 39 percent of Icelanders voted for Johannesson as president, public broadcaster RUV reported. The post is largely ceremonial but does carry powers to block legislation.

Contenders included a former prime minister and central bank governor.

Johannesson, a lecturer at the University of Iceland who has said he has never been a member of a political party, will take office on Aug. 1.

In his campaign, he advocated a constitutional clause allowing citizen-initiated referendums over parliamentary bills, saying it would help ensure the nation always had the final say in the largest issues affecting it.

Icelanders’ faith in authorities

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