Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson refused to sign legislation that would put taxpayers on the hook for $5 billion in banking losses. Yesterday, he won a record fifth term in office.
Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who wielded the political power of his traditionally ceremonial office and rejected a deal that would have put taxpayers on the hook for $5 billion to Britain and the Netherlands, has been re-elected to a fifth term.
The vote makes him the longest-serving president in Icelandic history. Heavily criticized after the financial crisis for cheerleading the overheated business sector, he earned back support from ordinary Icelanders and became a symbol of defiance by refusing to sign legislation that would have made taxpayers pay back British and Dutch deposits in a failed online bank.
The election Saturday hinged in large part on how politically active the president should be. Iceland is a parliamentary democracy in which the president has traditionally been seen as a figurehead. However, the president can refuse to sign into law bills passed by parliament, triggering a voter referendum. Grimsson was the first president to use that power.