Iceland Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as ISL by Abbreviationfinder, Iceland is the world’s most equal country and prominent in the rights of LGBTQ people. There are opportunities for improvement in the work against corruption.

Iceland is a democracy with strong and independent institutions. A variety of parties reflect different views and the opposition can act freely. The elections are considered free and fair, although the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has criticized the Icelandic electoral system, which gives more votes to rural people than cities in the allocation of seats in parliament.

  • Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Iceland, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.

Freedom of assembly, assembly and association is constitutionally protected, which means civil society organizations can operate freely and have a great influence in society. Freedom of religion is constitutionally protected and complied with.

Iceland is ranked by the World Economic Forum as the world’s most equal country and has twice had a female prime minister. The government is actively working to reduce wage differences between women and men. New legislation calls for equal pay for equal work for all employers with more than 25 employees. In Parliament, 48 per cent of the members were women in 2017. Iceland is also far ahead in its work against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Harassment of LGBT people is rare. Same-sex couples have the right to adopt and receive artificial insemination


The size of the country means that many know each other directly or indirectly, which places high demands on rules on conflicts of interest and conflict. Despite the introduction of new ethical rules for parliamentarians and the appointment of an anti-corruption steering committee, the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (Greco) in its 2018 report believes that the government has not taken adequate measures to combat corruption in politics.

In 2016, an international network of burgeoning journalists revealed through the so-called Panama Papers that the then prime minister Gunnlaugsson and his wife had invested tens of millions of dollars in a mailbox company in the British Virgin Islands tax haven. The country’s interior minister and finance minister were also mentioned in the documents (see Current policy).

In Transparency International’s index of perceived corruption in 2018, Iceland is ranked 14th, which is a snap compared to the previous year.

Freedom of expression and media

Freedom of expression is constitutional and well respected. Individuals can openly criticize state powers without the risk of reprisals. However, freedom of the press is not explicitly constitutional but is subject to freedom of expression, which may give rise to different interpretations. In connection with the 2017 elections, there was a notable case where a court rejected the police’s decision to ban media from reporting on the Prime Minister’s dealings with the bank Glitinir. Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index places 2019 Iceland at 14 out of 180, which is a snap down since 2018.

Judicial system and legal security

The Icelandic legal system has its basis mainly in Danish law but also in Norwegian. This means that the courts are independent in relation to the executive. The justice system is well-functioning, but the lack of capacity in the prison service means that the convicted can wait to serve their sentences. It has happened that imprisonment is prescribed because they could not be served.



Iceland comes before the EFTA Court

Icesave’s owner Landsbanki makes a first payment to Dutch and British creditors. At the same time, Iceland is being dragged before the EFTA court, accused of failing to comply with the deposit guarantee and thus discriminating against foreign savers when Icesave went bankrupt. Iceland rejects the charges.

Problematic fishing negotiations

Negotiations on EU membership are fast moving forward, but there are problems in the fisheries sector. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Jón Bjarnason is critical of the negotiations and may leave the government.


The Icesave deal is coming to an end

Icesave’s bankruptcy trustee finds new assets that are expected to suffice to compensate the affected customers in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Thus, the Icelandic taxpayers do not have to stand for the bill. The deal is thus expected to finally come to an end, although the process may take several years to complete.


EU negotiations begin

Iceland’s negotiations with the EU on membership of the Union begin. A couple of so-called chapters end immediately.


Volcanic eruption darkens Iceland

Ash from a new volcanic eruption, now in Grímsvötn, puts parts of Iceland in the dark. The ash cloud stops air traffic in the country and spreads over parts of northern Europe, where a number of flights may be canceled, including in Sweden.


Icelanders again vote no to Icesave law

Around 57 percent of participants in the second referendum reject the proposal.


Nine are arrested for suspected eco crimes

In connection with the investigation of the major bank Kaupthing’s collapse in 2009, nine people were arrested in London and Reykjavík. They are suspected of financial crime.


The president stops the Icesave law

The whole thing adopts the new law, but President Grímsson resumes his veto. The president wants another referendum, which is announced until April of that year.