Iceland election results in Europe’s first female-majority parliament.

Iceland’s ruling coalition has strengthened its majority after a national election that for the first time saw more women than men elected to a European parliament, final results showed on Sunday.

Opinion polls had forecast the coalition would fall short of a majority but a surge in support for the centre-right Progressive Party, which won five more seats than in the parliamentary election in 2017, pushed the coalition’s total count to 37 seats in the 63-seat Althingi parliament, according to state broadcaster RUV.

Voters in Iceland elected 33 women to parliament, up from 24 in the last election. Iceland was ranked the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th year running in a World Economic Forum (WEF) report released in March.

As of last year, only three other countries – Rwanda, Cuba and United Arab Emirates – had more women than men in parliament, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

In Europe, Sweden and Finland’s parliaments are 47 per cent and 46 per cent women, respectively.

Iceland’s current government, which consists of prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement, the conservative Independence Party and the Progressive Party, said before the election that they would negotiate continued co-operation if they held their majority.

President Gudni Johannesson said he would not hand a mandate to form a new government to any party, but would await coalition talks between the three governing parties.

“Now the ball is in the hands of the sitting government,” he told newspaper Visir.

The Independence Party again became the biggest in parliament with nearly one-quarter of votes and 16 seats, unchanged from the last election. Party leader and former prime minister Bjarni Benediktsson said he was optimistic that the three parties could form a coalition and he would not demand to lead a new government, RUV reported.

The Progressive Party is led by Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, who served as prime minister for less than a year in 2016, when former prime minister and then-party leader Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down following Panama Papers leaks.

The Left-Green Movement got eight seats, down from eleven in the 2017 election, although two parliamentarians left the party shortly after the last election. – Reuters

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