Bjarni Benediktsson (born 1970)
|Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs|
|Assumed office |
30 November 2017
|Prime Minister||Katrín Jakobsdóttir|
|Preceded by||Benedikt Jóhannesson|
23 May 2013 – 11 January 2017
|Prime Minister||Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson|
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
|Preceded by||Steingrímur J. Sigfússon|
|Succeeded by||Benedikt Jóhannesson|
|27th Prime Minister of Iceland|
11 January 2017 – 30 November 2017
|President||Guðni Th. Jóhannesson|
|Preceded by||Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson|
|Succeeded by||Katrín Jakobsdóttir|
|Leader of the Independence Party|
|Assumed office |
29 March 2009
|Preceded by||Geir Haarde|
|Born||26 January 1970|
|Political party||Independence Party|
|Spouse(s)||Þóra Margrét Baldvinsdóttir|
|Alma mater||University of Iceland|
University of Miami
Bjarni Benediktsson (born 26 January 1970), known colloquially as Bjarni Ben, is an Icelandic politician, who served as Prime Minister from January to November 2017. He has been the leader of the Icelandic Independence Party since 2009, and previously served as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs from 2013 to 2017, a post he later retained under Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Education, early career and family
Bjarni was born in Reykjavík. After obtaining a law degree at the University of Iceland, Bjarni completed his studies in Germany and the United States before returning to Iceland to work as a lawyer.
Bjarni entered the national parliament in 2003 and has been active in several committees in the areas of economy and taxation, industry and foreign affairs.
Bjarni was elected leader of the conservative Independence Party at its national convention on 29 March 2009 with 58.1 percent of the vote, about a month before the April 2009 Icelandic legislative elections. The party came in second in the elections with 16 seats, nine fewer than in the previous elections. After conceding defeat on 26 April 2009, Bjarni said his party had lost the trust of voters. "We lost this time but we will win again later," he said.
In the 2013 Althing elections on 28 April the Independence Party and their ally the Progressive Party each won 19 seats. On 17 May 2013 Icelandic media reported that Bjarni would take up the position of Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in a cabinet led by Progressive Party leader Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. In the 2016 Althing elections, the Independence Party won 21 seats, while the Progressive party only won 8. Shortly after the results, Prime Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson resigned from his post. A new coalition between the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future was formed in January 2017 with Bjarni designated to become Prime Minister.
In 2015, it was revealed that Bjarni had registered on Ashley Madison, a website for extramarital affairs. In response, Bjarni and his wife said that they had both registered on the site because they were curious. His username was "IceHot1".
Bjarni came under criticism in January 2017 for not revealing a government report on the offshore bank activities of Icelanders before the 2016 parliamentary elections. Bjarni falsely told reporters that he had not seen the report prior to the elections. He later apologized for his "inaccurate timeline".
Prime Minister (2017)
Bjarni became Prime Minister of Iceland on 11 January 2017. In September 2017, the future of the Icelandic government and Bjarni's tenure as prime minister was put in doubt when the Bright Future party withdrew from the governing coalition. Bright Future did this in the wake of reporting that government ministers of the Independence Party had concealed that Bjarni's father, Benedikt Sveinsson, recommended that the criminal record of convicted child sex offender Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson be erased.
The Minister of Justice, Sigríður Andersen, had informed Bjarni about his father's involvement in the letter of recommendation in July, and refused to disclose the recommendation's author until compelled to by a parliamentary committee.
Finance Minister (2017–present)
- "Bjarni Benediktsson". Alþingi (in Icelandic). Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- "Verður málverkið af Bjarna uppi á veggnum í Höfða? - Vísir". visir.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- "New Chairman Elected for Iceland's Independents". Iceland Review. Reykjavik. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
- "Centre-left wins Iceland election". BBC News. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
- "Iceland vote: Centre-right opposition wins election". BBC News. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "Iceland Election: Sigmundur Davíð to be Prime Minister". Iceland Review. Reykjavik. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Arnarsdóttir, Eygló Svala (9 January 2017). "New Government Announced Tomorrow". Iceland Review. Reykjavik. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- Hafstað, Vala (20 August 2015). "Minister Entangled in Ashley Madison Affair". Iceland Review. Reykjavik. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- Ryan Chittum, Jóhannes Kr. Kristjánsson, Bastian Obermayer, Frederik Obermaier (4 April 2016). Panama Papers: Iceland’s prime minister had offshore holdings in collapsed banks. The Irish Times Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "New Iceland PM says "Maybe a mistake not putting the offshore accounts report forward"". Retrieved 2017-01-12.
- "Iceland ousted one leader named in the Panama Papers, but ended up with another on the list". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
- Henley, Jon (September 15, 2017). "Row over sexual abuse letter brings down Iceland's government". The Guardian.
- "Iceland government collapses over paedophile furore". BBC News. September 15, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- Thorsson, Elias (September 15, 2017). Evans, Catherine (ed.). "Iceland may face new election after governing party quits over 'breach of trust'". Reuters.
The Ministry of Justice, under minister Sigridur Andersen, a member of Benediktsson’s Independence Party, had initially refused to disclose who had written the letter of recommendation but was later ordered to do so by a parliamentary committee. Andersen told broadcaster Stod 2 that she had informed Benediktsson about his father’s involvement last July, but had not disclosed that information to anyone else.
- Fontaine, Paul (September 14, 2017). "PM's Father Endorsed "Restored Honour" For Convicted Paedophile". The Reykjavík Grapevine.
Even more damning is the fact that public broadcasting service RÚV now reports that the Minister of Justice, Sigríður Andersen, informed the Prime Minister last July that his father had provided this letter.