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Viewing cable 09REYKJAVIK53, ICELAND: FORMER FM GISLADOTTIR PULLS OUT OF ELECTIONS;

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09REYKJAVIK53 2009-03-09 16:04 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO4348
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRK #0053 0681647
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091647Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4022
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000053 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, INR-B 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PINR IC
SUBJECT: ICELAND: FORMER FM GISLADOTTIR PULLS OUT OF ELECTIONS; 
PRIME MINISTER TO LEAD SOCIAL DEMS? 
 
Ref: Reykjavik 28 and previous 
 
1. (U) Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) Chair and former Foreign 
Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir announced late on Sunday, 8 
March that she will not be running for reelection as party chair nor 
as a member of the Althingi in the elections on April 25. 
Gisladottir, who was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor last 
September and has undergone two major operations as well as 
radiation treatment, has been recuperating since early February when 
the current SDA-Left Green government was announced (reftel). 
Though at that time Gisladottir retained her seat as SDA Chair, she 
did not take a ministerial post and instead put forward current 
Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir as her party's senior 
representative in the government.  In announcing her withdrawal, 
Gisladottir said her medical recovery has been slower than expected 
and demands all her energy at present.  In a TV interview on 7 
March, she specifically referred to severe vertigo, and said the 
following night that she also has difficulty concentrating. 
2.  (U) Gisladottir's health has been a looming question mark for 
her party since it became clear in January that she was in worse 
shape than earlier reported.  A week ago, she barely met the 
registration deadline for the SDA's March 14 Reykjavik primary, but 
apparently reconsidered her decision over the past week.  Her 
announcement leaves the SDA floundering with just weeks before its 
national congress kicks off on March 27.  PM Sigurdardottir has thus 
far resisted pressure to run for SDA Chair, and the only other 
declared candidate is former FM and Ambassador to the U.S. Jon 
Baldvin Hannibalsson.  Minister of Foreign Affairs and Industry 
Ossur Skarphedinsson declared again on March 9 that he has no plans 
to campaign for a leadership role in the party. 
 
3.  (SBU) Political commentators speculate that Sigurdardottir will 
now come under intense pressure from party insiders to run as chair 
and provide the SDA with some leadership.  Leading daily newspaper 
Morgunbladid noted this possibility in its March 9 editorial, while 
also speculating that despite Sigurdardottir's tremendous popularity 
and 65 percent approval rating with the public, she will not have 
Gisladottir's ability to unify the SDA around a single vision.  That 
said, one close observer of SDA politics told PolOff that she 
believes Sigurdardottir will be left with little choice but to run 
for party chair, perhaps for a shortened two-year term.  The party 
knows too well that the 70 year old Hannibalsson "belongs to the 
last century," and that Sigurdardottir is the only reasonable 
possibility given the short time left to choose a leader before 
April. 
 
 
VAN VOORST