The President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, used his New Year speech to announce that he will not seek re-election to the office of President. After sixteen years as head of state he will thus leave office when his fourth and current term comes to an end on 1 August this year.
A political scientist by profession, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who will be 69 this year, was elected President with 41.4% of the votes in succession to Vigdís Finnbogadóttir in 1996. He was re-elected unopposed in 2000, won 67.5% of the votes cast in 2004 and again re-elected unopposed in 2008.
The role of President of Iceland is largely symbolical, but Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has twice used his right to veto parliamentary legislation (and thus cause a referendum to be held), a right which none of his four predecessors had ever used.
The next President of Iceland will be elected by popular vote in June.
This means that both Nordic republics will get new heads of state this year, as the second term of the current President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, also expires this year and she is not constitutionally eligible for re-election.