Iceland election: Voters go to polls after paedophile row

Iceland election: Voters go to polls after paedophile row

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Ms Jakobsdóttir says she wants to use Iceland’s economic boom to fund investment

Icelanders are going to the polls to select a new government after a row over a paedophile led to the collapse of PM Bjarni Benediktsson’s coalition.

The scandal erupted after it emerged that Mr Benediktsson’s father had written a letter saying the paedophile should have his “honour restored”.

Iceland’s second snap election in a year comes amid deep voter distrust, despite a thriving economy.

Last year a tax haven scandal forced the then prime minister to resign.

Leaked information from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca showed at the time that PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife, but had not declared it.

Mr Gunnlaugsson has denied wrongdoing and is standing in the current election with his new Centre Party.

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Polls show Mr Benediktsson’s centre-right Independence Party slightly ahead of the Left-Green Movement. Voting closes at 22:00 GMT.

Most of the parties say investment is needed in welfare, infrastructure and tourism but disagree about how to fund it.

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Former PM Gunnlaugsson (L) and Mr Benediktsson are standing despite their respective controversies

The Left-Green movement, led by 41-year-old Katrín Jakobsdóttir, wants to use the country’s economic boom to fund investment and restore trust in government.

The Independence Party has said it wants to fund infrastructure spending by taking money out of the banking sector.

It has been part of every ruling coalition since 1980, except during the 2009-2013 economic crisis years.

The furore over Mr Benediktsson’s father’s letter relates to an old Icelandic system allowing convicts to have certain civil rights restored if three letters of recommendation from persons of good character are provided.

Icelanders were furious at the secret backing for Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson – convicted in 2004 of raping his stepdaughter almost every day for 12 years from when she was five. He served a five-and-a-half-year jail term.

The Bright Future party said it was quitting the three-party coalition over the “serious breach of trust”.

The island of 340,000 people was one of the countries hit hardest by the 2008 financial crisis but has turned its economy around by focussing on tourism.

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