She’s only 41 years old, but Katrin Jakobsdottir is Iceland’s new prime minister— and a total powerhouse. The leader of the Left-Green Movement, Jakobsdottir is an outspoken feminist and environmentalist, with big plans to go beyond the Paris Agreement and make Iceland an example and leader in the fight against climate change. And at a time when people are revolting against dyed-in-the-wool politicians, Jakobsdottir certainly paves the way for change. This is not your average politician.
The new, anti-war leader comes from a family of poets and studied literature herself, with a speciality in Icelandic crime novels. (Which is pretty much the most badass speciality that anyone in any role could possibly have.) But she’s so much more than just that— she’s an accomplished, dedicated politician. She’s been holding political roles since 2003, when she became deputy chairperson of the Left Green Movement. She served as both the Minister of Education, Science and Culture and the Minister of Nordic Co-operation from 2009 and 2013.
So she’s not only politically experienced, but she’s also ready to shake things up. She ran on a platform dedicated to restoring trust in government and is hoping that the coalition formed will mark an important change for Iceland. Seeing a woman step in as one of the youngest heads of state in the world is truly inspirational.
The Coalition Problem: Part Of A Larger Whole
While many are rightly celebrating the appointment of Jakobsdottir, the fractured elections have given people pause, even as the new prime minister is being welcomed. Although Jakobsdottir’s party didn’t get the most votes in the election, she was the most popular choice to be prime minister. But the alliance, formed between her party, the center-right Progressive Party, and the conservative Independence Party, feels potentially volatile. “The parties’ leaderships however justify the unlikely alliance by saying they want to restore stability to Iceland’s political system, which has endured a run of general elections in 2013, 2016, and 2017 amid collapsing governments,” the Independent explains. “The country also had a snap election in 2009. The diverse group faces an uphill struggle, however, as no three-party coalition government has ever lasted a full term in Iceland.”
Only time will tell how the alliance will play out, but Jakobsdottir seems unfazed and ready for the challenges ahead. “It is important that we try to change the way we work together,” Jakobsdottir said on Thursday in Reykjavik, when they announced the new coalition. “This agreement strikes a new chord.”
We can only hope that the new leader will be as successful as she is bold. But in the meantime, seeing a young woman with such strong views take power is heartening. She does not apologize for being a feminist, for being anti-war, for wanting to fight climate change. Instead, she has highlighted these issues in her political campaigning. No longer are these being seen as controversial view points— they’re being used as platforms. People are finally starting to respond to issues that have long been political suicide, but should be common sense. Jakobsdottir will hopefully be a transformational Prime Minister, but even seeing her take the role is an important positive step.