Explaining the low voter turnout in Iceland’s 2010 local government elections

Grétar Þór Eyþórsson, Marcin Kowalczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voter participation in Iceland (measured as voter turnout) was significantly lower in
the two most recent local government elections than ever before. In the 2006 local elections,
voter turnout in the country dropped below 80 percent for the first time since registration
began (to 78.7 percent) and fell even further to 73.4 percent in the 2010 local elections. This
article presents data on this drop and seeks potential explanations for it. One hypothesis is that
a major factor, especially in the 2010 elections, was disillusionment in the wake of Iceland’s economic collapse in 2008 and the subsequent crisis of public confidence in parliament. Another
hypothesis is that the size of municipalities has to be taken into account. As elsewhere, political
participation in Iceland is stronger in smaller municipalities. It is only in the bigger municipalities in Iceland that nationwide political parties in Iceland are active, and it is also there that voter
turnout has dropped the most and voters have given the most support to newly formed
political parties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Other keywords

  • Voter participation
  • Voter turnout
  • Government elections

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