Iceland’s new government created

A new government has been formed in Iceland, replacing the cabinet of ministers, who was forced to resign after the riots caused by the severe economic and financial crisis.

The head of the center-left government was Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, a former stewardess who got into big politics thanks to her participation in the trade union movement. She became the first woman to serve as Prime Minister of Iceland. In the former government, Sigurðardóttir served as Minister for Social Policy.

The new Icelandic prime minister does not hide his non-traditional sexual orientation. This is stated on her personal page on the official website of the Ministry of Social Policy of Iceland. Sigurdardottir became the first open-minded lesbian in the world as head of government.

The new government of Iceland will work until the early elections, which are scheduled to be held on April 25.

Iceland’s former cabinet of ministers resigned on January 26, about a week after the mass demonstration in Reykjavik, which escalated into clashes with police. The demonstrators demanded a change of government that failed to cope with the crisis.

Iceland is considered a country that has been hit hardest by the crisis than other European states. The financial sector of the economy of Iceland, previously showing rapid growth, collapsed at the end of 2008. The government was forced to nationalize the three largest banks in the country.

According to official forecasts, Iceland’s GDP will decline by almost 10% by the end of the year. The country expects a significant increase in unemployment.

First gay premier takes helm in Iceland

Johanna Sigurdardottir was sworn in as Iceland’s prime minister, becoming the world’s first openly gay premier and the first woman to take the post in Iceland.

Sigurdardottir, 66, took office less than a week after the Cabinet resigned amid fallout from Iceland’s financial collapse.

A former flight attendant who entered politics via the union movement, Sigurdardottir was minister of social affairs and social security in the outgoing Cabinet, which resigned Monday.

Iceland has been in political turmoil since October, when its currency, stock market and leading banks collapsed amid the global financial crisis. The island nation’s Nordic neighbors sent billions of dollars to prop up the economy, as did the International Monetary Fund in its first intervention to support a Western European democracy in decades.

But weekly demonstrations — some verging on riots — finally forced Prime Minister Geir Haarde and his coalition to resign en masse on January 26.

The country’s president turned to the Social Democratic Alliance party to form a new government, and they selected Sigurdardottir to lead it.

She has been a member of Iceland’s Parliament for 30 years, and was in her second stint as minister of social affairs. She started her career as a flight attendant for the airline that became IcelandAir. She was active in the flight attendants’ labor union during her 11 years with the airline, according to her official resume.

She briefly led her own political party, which merged with other center-left parties to form the Alliance party.

Sigurdardottir is Iceland’s first female prime minister, although not the North Atlantic nation’s first female head of state — Vigdis Finnbogadottir became its fourth president in 1980.

Sigurdardottir lists author and playwright Jonina Leosdottir, 54, as her spouse on her ministry Web site. She has two children from an earlier marriage.

Her prime ministership may be short-lived. The government she is forming is only due to last until the next elections, which must take place by May and could be held in April.

A statement posted by the new government on Iceland’s Web site promised elections “as soon as circumstances allow,” and said the interim government “will base itself on a very prudent and responsible policy in economic and fiscal matters.”

The statement added that the government will treat as priorities “the principles of sustainable development, women’s rights, equality and justice.”

Stonewall, a leading British gay and lesbian rights group, welcomed Sigurdardottir’s appointment as a milestone.

“It really does matter. It is helpful” to have an openly gay prime minister, said Gary Nunn, a Stonewall spokesperson.

“We are trying to foster the ambition that young people can be anything they want to be.”

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