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Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Assumed office 
1 February 2009
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Preceded by Geir Haarde

In office
24 May 2007 – 1 February 2009
Prime Minister Geir Haarde
Preceded by Magnús Stefánsson (Social Affairs)
Siv Friðleifsdóttir (Health and Social Security)
Succeeded by Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir
In office
8 July 1987 – 24 June 1994
Prime Minister Þorsteinn Pálsson
Steingrímur Hermannsson
Davíð Oddsson
Preceded by Alexander Stefánsson
Succeeded by Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson

Born 4 October 1942 (1942-10-04) (age 67)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political party Social Democratic Party (1978–1994)
National Movement (1994–2000)
Social Democratic Alliance (2000–present)
Domestic partner Jónína Leósdóttir
Children Two sons (b. 1972 and 1977)
One stepson (b. 1981)
Profession Trade Unionist

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir[1] (pronounced [jouːhanːa ˈsɪːɣʏrðartouʰtɪr]; born 4 October 1942) is an Icelandic politician and the current Prime Minister of Iceland. She had previously been Iceland's Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security from 1987–1994 and 2007–2009. She has been a member of the Althing (Iceland's parliament) for Reykjavík constituencies since 1978, winning re-election on eight successive occasions. She became Iceland's first female Prime Minister on 1 February 2009; she also became the world's first openly gay head of government of the modern era.[2][3]

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is a social democrat and Iceland's longest-serving member of Parliament. In the 1990s, when she lost a bid to head the party, she lifted her fist and declared "Minn tími mun koma!" ("My time will come!"), a phrase that became a popular Icelandic expression.[4][5]


Education and early career

Jóhanna was born in Reykjavík and studied at the Commercial College of Iceland, a vocational high school operated by the Chamber of Commerce. After graduating with her commercial diploma in 1960, she worked as a flight attendant with Loftleiðir (a predecessor of Icelandair) and as an office worker. She was active in the trade union movement from early in her professional life, presiding over the Board of the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association in 1966 and 1969 and over the Board of Svölurnar, Association of Former Stewardesses in 1975. She was also a member of the Board of the Commercial Workers' Union from 1976 to 1983.[6]

Political career

She was elected to the Althing in 1978 on the list of the Social Democratic Party for the Reykjavík constituency.[7] She enjoyed early success in her parliamentary career, serving as deputy speaker of the Althing in 1979 and in 1983–84. She was elected vice-chairman of the Social Democratic Party in 1984, a post she held until 1993. She was also Minister of Social Affairs in four separate Cabinets from 1987 to 1994,[6] when she left the Social Democratic Party after losing the leadership contest to form a new party Þjóðvaki (variously translated as "Awakening of the Nation" or the "National Movement"); the two parties remerged in 2000 to form the present Social Democratic Alliance. Her 1994 declaration Minn tími mun koma! ("My time will come!"), after she lost the contest for the leadership of the Social Democratic party, has become an iconic phrase in the Icelandic language.[4][5]

From 1994 to 2003, Jóhanna was an active member of the opposition in the Althing, serving on numerous parliamentary committees. After the 2003 elections, in which she stood in the Reykjavík South constituency (after the split of the old Reykjavík constituency), she was re-elected deputy speaker of the Althing. The 2007 elections, in which she stood in the Reykjavík North constituency, saw the return of the Social Democratic Alliance to government in coalition with the Independence Party, and Jóhanna was named Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security.[7]


Prime Minister

On 26 January 2009, Prime Minister Geir Haarde tendered the resignation of the coalition government to the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.[8][9] The move followed fourteen weeks of protests over the government's handling of the financial crisis, protests which had intensified from 20 January.

After talks with the leaders of the five parties represented in the Althing, the President asked the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement to form a new government and to prepare for elections in the spring.[10]

Jóhanna was proposed as Prime Minister for the new government, amongst other things because of her popularity among the general public and her good relations with the Left-Green Movement. An opinion poll by Capacent Gallup in December 2008 found 73% approval of her actions as a minister, more than any other member of the Cabinet: she was also the only minister to have improved her approval ratings over 2008.[11]

The new government needed the support of the Progressive Party in the Althing.[citation needed] Negotiations continued up to the evening of 31 January, and the new Cabinet was appointed on 1 February. Independent polling showed that Jóhanna and Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, leader of the Left-Green Movement, the other party in the coalition government, enjoyed considerable support outside their own parties.[12]

On 25 April 2009, an election was held in Iceland,[13] following strong pressure from the public as a result of the Icelandic financial crisis.[14] The Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement, which formed the outgoing coalition government under Jóhanna, both made gains and now together have an overall majority of seats in the Althing (Iceland's parliament). The Progressive Party also made gains, and the new Citizens' Movement, formed after the January 2009 protests, gained four seats. The Independence Party, which had been in power for 18 years until January 2009, lost a third of its support and nine seats in the Althing. On 10 May 2009, the new government was announced, with Jóhanna staying on as Prime Minister. [15]

Personal life

Jóhanna married Þorvaldur Steinar Jóhannesson in 1970[16] and the couple had two sons (born 1972 and 1977).

After Jóhanna's divorce, she joined in a civil union with Jónína Leósdóttir (born 1954), an author and playwright, in 2002. [4][5][6]


  1. ^ This name is usually spelled in English-language press as Johanna Sigurdardottir.
  2. ^ Moody, Jonas (2009-01-30). "Iceland Picks the World's First Openly Gay PM". Time.,8599,1875032,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  3. ^ "First gay PM for Iceland cabinet". BBC News. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Peter Popham (29 January 2009), World gets its first gay leader, The Independent, 
  5. ^ a b c Valur Gunnarsson (30 January 2009), Profile: Johanna Sigurdardottir, The Guardian, 
  6. ^ a b c Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister's Office,, retrieved 2 February 2009 
  7. ^ a b Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Secretariat of Althingi,, retrieved 28 January 2009 
  8. ^ Prime Minister Formally Tenders Government's Resignation, Prime Minister's Office, 26 January 2009, 
  9. ^ Iceland's coalition government resigns, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 26 January 2009, 
  10. ^ New Icelandic government under negotiation, IceNews, 27 January 2009, 
  11. ^ Sigurdardóttir Ready to Become Iceland's PM, Iceland Review, 27 January 2009, 
  12. ^ "New Icelandic government still popular". IceNews. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  13. ^ Kosningar 9. maí og Geir hættir, RÚV, 23 January 2009, . (Icelandic)
  14. ^ Iceland announces early election, BBC News, 23 January 2009, .
  15. ^ Iceland Review Online: Daily News from Iceland, Current Affairs, Business, Politics, Sports, Culture
  16. ^ "Alþingi - Æviágrip: Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir" (in Icelandic). 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2009-02-02. "M. 1. (28. febr. 1970) Þorvaldur Steinar Jóhannesson (f. 3. mars 1944) bankastarfsmaður í Reykjavík. Þau skildu." 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Geir Haarde
Prime Minister of Iceland
Preceded by
Magnús Stefánsson
as Minister of Social Affairs
Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security
2007 – 2009
Succeeded by
Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir
Preceded by
Siv Friðleifsdóttir
as Minister of Health and Social Security
Preceded by
Alexander Stefánsson
Minister of Social Affairs
1987 – 1994
Succeeded by
Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir
Chairman of the Social Democratic Alliance


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