Bjarni Benediktsson

Bjarni Benediktsson

Bjarni Benediktsson
Bjarni Benediktsson vid Nordiska Radets session i Stockholm.jpg
 
Former 27th Prime Minister of Iceland
Incumbent
Assumed office
11 January 2017
President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
Preceded by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs
In office
23 May 2013 – 11 January 2017
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Preceded by Katrín Júlíusdóttir
Succeeded by Benedikt Jóhannesson
Leader of the Independence Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
29 March 2009
Preceded by Geir Haarde
 
Personal details
Born (1970-01-26) 26 January 1970 
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political party Independence Party
Spouse(s) Þóra Margrét Baldvinsdóttir
Children 4
Alma mater University of Iceland
University of Miami

Bjarni Benediktsson , known colloquially as Bjarni Ben, is an Icelandic politician, who has served as Prime Minister since January 2017. He has been the leader of the Icelandic Independence Party since 2009, and previously served as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

Education, early career and family

Bjarni was born in Reykjavík. After obtaining a law degree at the University of Iceland, Bjarni completed his studies in Germany and the United States before returning to Iceland to work as a lawyer.

The former Icelandic Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson was his great-uncle.

Political career

Bjarni entered the national parliament in 2003 and has been active in several committees in the areas of economy and taxation, industry and foreign affairs.

Bjarni was elected leader of the conservative Independence Party at its national convention on 29 March 2009 with 58.1 percent of the vote, about a month before the April 2009 Icelandic legislative elections. The party came in second in the elections with 16 seats, nine fewer than in the previous elections. After conceding defeat on 26 April 2009, Bjarni said his party had lost the trust of voters. “We lost this time but we will win again later,” he said.

In the 2013 Althing elections on 28 April the Independence Party and their ally the Progressive Party each won 19 seats. On 17 May 2013 Icelandic media reported that Bjarni would take up the position of Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in a cabinet led by Progressive Party leader Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. In the 2016 Althing elections, the Independence Party won 21 seats, while the Progressive party only won 8. Shortly after the results, Prime Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson resigned from his post. A new coalition between the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future was formed in January 2017 with Bjarni designated to become Prime Minister.

Controversies

In 2015, it was revealed that Bjarni had registered on Ashley Madison, a website for extramarital affairs. In response, Bjarni and his wife said that they had both registered on the site because they were curious. His username was “IceHot1”.

As reported in 2016, Bjarni “shared what is known as ‘power of attorney’ over a shell company” involved in the Panama Papers.

Bjarni came under criticism in January 2017 for not revealing a government report on the offshore bank activities of Icelanders before the 2016 parliamentary elections. Bjarni falsely told reporters that he had not seen the report prior to the elections. He later apologized for his “inaccurate timeline”.

Prime Minister (2017–present)

Bjarni became Prime Minister of Iceland on 11 January 2017. In September 2017, the future of the Icelandic government and Bjarni’s tenure as prime minister was put in doubt when the Bright Future party withdrew from the governing coalition. Bright Future did this in the wake of reporting that government ministers of the Independence Party had concealed that Bjarni’s father, Benedikt Sveinsson, recommended that the criminal record of convicted pedophile Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson be erased.

The Minister of Justice, Sigríður Andersen, had informed Bjarni about his father’s involvement in the letter of recommendation in July, and refused to disclose the recommendation’s author until compelled to by a parliamentary committee.

  • Prime Minister since 2017. 
  • Chairman of the Independence Party since 2009. 
  • Ministry: Prime Minister’s Office
  • Date of Birth: January 26th, 1970
  • Party: Independence Party
  • bjarniben@althingi.is
  • +354 5630 500

Parliamentary career

  • Member of Althingi for the Southwest Constituency since 2003.

Earlier committees

  • Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee 2005-2013 (Chairman 2007-2009).
  • Member of the Economy and Taxation Committee 2007-2009.
  • Member of the Credentials Committee 2005-2009.
  • Member of the Health and Social Security Committee 2004-2005.
  • Member of the General Affairs Committee 2003-2007 (Chairman 2003-2007).
  • Member of the Budget Committee 2003-2007.
  • Member of the Industry Committee 2003-2004 and 2007.
  • Member of the Althingi Special Committee on Constitutional Affairs 2009 (former) and 2004-2007.
  • Member of the Icelandic delegation to the Nordic Council 2009-2012.
  • Member of the Icelandic Delegation to the EFTA and EEA Parliamentary Committees 2005-2009 (Deputy Chairman 2007-2009).
  • Member of the Icelandic Delegation to the WEU Assembly 2003-2005 (Chairman 2003-2005).
  • Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Working Group on European Affairs 2010-2013.
  • Member of the EU-Iceland joint Parliamentary Committee 2010-2013.

Ministerial Career

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs 2013- 2017.
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