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Icelanders Vote in Volatile Election   09/25 08:44


   REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- Icelanders were voting Saturday in a general 
election dominated by climate change, with an unprecedented number of political 
parties likely to win parliamentary seats.

   Polls suggest there won't be an outright winner, triggering complex 
negotiations to build a coalition government.

   A record nine parties could cross the 5% threshold needed to qualify for 
seats in Iceland's parliament, the Althing. Upstart parties include the 
Socialist Party, which is promising to shorten the workweek and nationalize 
Iceland's fishing industry.

   High turnout is expected, as one-fifth of eligible voters have already cast 
absentee ballots.

   Climate change is high among voters' concerns in Iceland, a glacier-studded 
volcanic island nation of about 350,000 people in the North Atlantic.

   An exceptionally warm summer by Icelandic standards - 59 days of 
temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) -- and shrinking glaciers have 
helped drive global warming up the political agenda.

   Polls show strong support for left-leaning parties promising to cut carbon 
emissions by more than Iceland is already committed to under the Paris climate 
agreement. The country has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2040, a decade 
ahead of most other European nations.

   The current government is a coalition of three parties spanning the 
political spectrum from left to center-right and led by Prime Minister Katrin 
Jakobsdottir of the Left Green Party. It was formed in 2017 after years of 
political instability.

   Jakobsdottir remains a popular prime minister, but polls suggest her party 
could fare poorly, ending the ongoing coalition.

   "The country is facing big decisions as we turn from the pandemic," 
Jakobsdottir said during televised debates on Friday night in which party 
leaders vowed to end Iceland's reliance on oil and many wanted to raise taxes 
on the rich.

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