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Iceland to drop EU membership bid

Iceland will drop its EU membership bid without holding a referendum that was earlier promised by the two ruling Euro-sceptic parties, the government said Friday. The centrist Progress Party and the right-wing Independence Party agreed on a draft bill asking the government "to retract the application for membership of the European Union", which the island nation presented in 2010.

Iceland's new PM rejects EU, but embraces EU economic goals

By Jon Thor Viglundsson REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland must find stability by aiming for the same economic goals as those set for European Union states, even though it is skeptical about joining the EU and will keep its own currency, the new prime minister said. Iceland is still recovering from the collapse of its top three banks in late 2008 and although growth has returned, many Icelanders are disappointed at what they see as a slow recovery.

Iceland's new government takes office

Iceland's new Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson took office on Thursday, heading up a coalition government composed entirely of newcomers who have never served in a cabinet. Gunnlaugsson, of the centrist-agrarian Progressive Party, thereby became at age 38 one of the youngest serving heads of government in the world. He will also be the youngest member of Iceland's new government. An Oxford-educated former journalist, Gunnlaugsson belongs to a new generation of politicians who emerged after Iceland's 2008 financial crisis.

Iceland's new eurosceptic government vows EU referendum

The two parties that emerged victorious from Iceland's general election in April announced Wednesday they had agreed to form a government and vowed to hold a referendum on EU membership. "We will not continue the accession talks with the European Union until after a referendum," a government policy document signed by the centrist-agrarian Progressive Party and the right-wing Independence Party said.

Iceland forms new centre-right govt, plans to halt talks on joining 27-nation European Union

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - The leader of the centre-right Progressive Party was chosen as Iceland's new prime minister Wednesday and promptly announced a halt to talks with the European Union about joining the 27-nation bloc. Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson spoke about the policy shift at a press conference after being selected premier. "The government intends to halt negotiations between Iceland and the European Union," he said. "We will not hold further negotiations with the European Union without prior referendum."

Iceland's centrist leader asked to form government

Iceland's president on Tuesday asked the leader of the centrist-agrarian Progressive Party to form a coalition government after a spectacular election comeback at the weekend. "I have decided to ask the chairman of the Progressive Party, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, to form a new government," President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson told reporters. The decision was somewhat of a surprise, as many had expected the right-wing Independence Party to be tasked with forming the government.

Icelandic voters elect centre-right parties promising to speed recovery from economic collapse

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - In a dramatic about-face, Icelandic voters have returned to power the centre-right parties that led the national economy to collapse five years ago. With most votes counted early Sunday, the conservative Independence Party and rural-based Progressive Party — who governed Iceland for decades before the 2008 crash — each had 19 seats in Iceland's 63-seat parliament, the Althingi. The parties, who are promising to ease Icelanders' economic pain with tax cuts and debt relief, are likely to form a coalition government.

Crisis-battered Iceland seen halting EU talks

The European Union's economic woes most likely helped Iceland's eurosceptic centre-right opposition oust the leftist government as voters in the crisis-battered nation failed to see the value in joining the bloc. The Icelandic electorate on Saturday shunned the Social Democratic Alliance Party, which submitted an EU membership application in 2009 and campaigned on the issue, claiming it would tame the North Atlantic country's persistently high inflation.

Centre-right opposition wins Iceland election

Iceland's centre-right opposition stormed back to power, final election results showed on Sunday, marking a spectacular comeback for a coalition ousted in 2009 after presiding over the country's near bankruptcy. Voters from the small North Atlantic nation, fatigued after four years of austerity imposed by a leftist government, handed power to the right-wing Independence Party and the centrist-agrarian Progressive Party, results showed.

Iceland conservatives claim voter mandate for PM post

The head of Iceland's conservative Independence Party said Sunday he had a mandate from voters to form a coalition, even as leftist rivals claimed the resurgent Progressive Party's leader was a better choice. "I think it's quite possible that the Independence Party gets the opportunity (to form a government) as the party with the most votes behind itself," Bjarni Benediktsson said during a televised debate on public broadcaster RUV. "We are ready to lead the government," he added. The Independence Party won the popular vote with 26.7 percent of voter sympathies.
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