In November 2017, Katrín Jakobsdóttir became the new prime minister of Iceland as part of the country's Left-Green Movement. In addition to being only the second woman to ever hold the position, the 41-year-old is a staunch environmentalist who is hoping to make the country carbon neutral by 2040. Here are some facts about Iceland’s new PM.
1. SHE’S AN EXPERT IN CRIME FICTION.
Before entering politics, Jakobsdóttir attended the University of Iceland, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Icelandic while minoring in French in 1999. She got her masters in Icelandic literature at the same school, where she wrote her dissertation on Arnaldur Indriðason, a popular crime author in Iceland.
2. SHE IS ICELAND’S FORMER EDUCATION MINISTER.
After the 2008 financial crisis led to Iceland’s first left-leaning government taking power, Jakobsdóttir served as the country’s Minister of Education, Science and Culture. She continues to tout the importance of those subjects by promising to put more money from the country’s current economic upswing into health and education.
3. SHE IS ICELAND'S FOURTH PRIME MINISTER IN TWO YEARS.
Jakobsdóttir’s tenure as prime minister begins as the country’s political system deals with a series of scandals from the past few years, including fallout from government officials being named in the Panama Papers. This has led to constant shuffling of the prime minister position, and Jakobsdóttir, as part of the Left-Green party, will be the fourth since 2016. The previous prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, saw his coalition collapse in 2017 after a scandal occurred involving his father, which prompted a snap election in October.
Though a coalition with the Progressive Party and Benediktsson’s Independence Party led to Jakobsdóttir becoming PM, she must still work with Benediktsson, who is now the country’s Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs. The three ruling parties will all have a hand in different aspects of the government, but the situation between them could be tenuous, as no partnership of this nature has lasted a full term in the country.
4. A POLL NAMED HER THE “MOST TRUSTED ICELANDIC POLITICIAN” AHEAD OF THE COUNTRY’S PRESIDENT
In 2016, an Icelandic market research poll named Jakobsdóttir the country’s most trusted politician, with 59.2 percent of people saying they trusted her. This was ahead of then-president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at 54.5 percent. Other polls suggest that most of Jakobsdóttir’s support comes from voters aged 18 to 29, with many of them being women.
5. OH, AND SHE WAS IN A MUSIC VIDEO
Before Jakobsdóttir entered politics, she popped up in the music video for "Listen Baby” by the Icelandic pop rock band Bang Gang. What’s her role in the video? Well, she runs. A lot.
“Two friends of mine asked me to play that role, and it's mainly doing the running bits,” Jakobsdóttir told USA Today. She understands, though, the importance of trying her hand in many different areas of Icelandic culture, telling the site, “So, we all have to play a lot of different parts, not least [of all] in a small society like Iceland."