REYKJAVIK: History professor Gudni Johannesson won Iceland’s presidential election with 39.1 percent of the ballots, according to final results announced on public television channel RUV on Sunday.
The political newcomer only decided to run for the presidency after the so-called Panama Papers leak in April, which detailed offshore accounts and implicated several senior Icelandic politicians.
Throughout the campaign, Johannesson rode a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, emphasizing his non-partisan, independent vision of the presidency.
The victory was especially sweet for the academic as he celebrated his 48th birthday Sunday.
Businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir, also without party affiliation, came second with 27.9 percent of the ballots.
The president in Iceland holds a largely ceremonial position, acting as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity, and more important legislative elections are due in the autumn.
Johannesson will now replace Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, 73, after 20 years as head of state.
David Oddsson, a former conservative prime minister and central bank governor who had been Johannesson’s closest rival throughout most of the campaign, garnered just 13 percent of votes.
But the outrage that fueled mass street protests in April and led to ousting of premier Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson appeared to have dissipated somewhat in the final days of the campaign, as euphoria erupted over the Icelandic football squad achieving a historic feat in the Euro 2016 football tournament.
A North Atlantic island of just 334,000 people, Iceland beat Austria 2-1 on Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 in its first major international competition, and will face England on Monday. AFP