Iceland briefly celebrated the election of a majority-female parliament on Sunday, before a recount showed there were still more men in parliament than women, state broadcaster RUV reported.
The initial vote count resulted in female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.
Hours later, a recount in northwestern Iceland altered the result, leaving women candidates with 30 seats, a number previously reached in Iceland’s second most recent election, in 2016.
However, nearly 48 percent of the total, the highest percentage of women legislators in Europe. On the continent, Sweden and Finland have 47 percent and 46 percent female representation in parliament, respectively.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61 percent of the House of Representatives, with Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico at 50 percent or just over. Worldwide, the organization says just over a quarter of lawmakers are women.
Iceland, a North Atlantic island of 371,000 people, was ranked the world’s most gender equal country for the 12th consecutive year in a World Economic Forum (WEF) report released in March.
“The female victory is still the big story of this election,” politics professor Olafur Hardarsson told RUV after the recount.
Iceland’s voting system is divided into six districts, and the recount was conducted in western Iceland after stiff competition in the northwestern constituency, according to Inge Tryggvasson, head of the electoral commission there.
“We decided to recount because the result was too close,” Tryggvason told AFP, adding that no one had asked for a recount.
This move did not affect the overall election result.
The three parties in the outgoing coalition government led by Prime Minister Catherine Jacobsdottir won a total of 37 seats in Saturday’s poll, two more than the previous one.
The alliance brought Iceland four years of stability after 10 years of political crises, but the Green Left movement led by Jakobsdottir appeared weak after losing ground to its right-wing partners, who made strong showings.
The Green Left movement won just eight seats, three fewer than in 2017, raising questions about Jacobsdottir’s future as prime minister.
The centre-right Istiqlal Party received the largest share of the vote, taking 16 seats, seven of which are held by women. The Centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest gain, taking 13 seats, five more than the previous time.
The three parties have not announced whether they will work together for another term, but given the strong support from voters, it seems likely. It will take days, if not weeks, for a new government to be formed and announced.
Speaking to private broadcaster Stod 2 on Sunday, Jacobsdottir declined to be preoccupied with future discussions of the coalition, saying only that her government received “remarkable” support in the election.
Progressive Party leader Sigurdur Inge Johansson and Independence Party leader Bjarne Benediktsson said they were open to discussing the continuation of the alliance.
Benedictson told Stod 2 that “it’s normal for parties that have worked together for four years and have good personal relationships” to try to stay together.
But he told public broadcaster RUV he was unsure of their success.
He also said he would “not demand” the post of prime minister.
The unusual alliance of left and right in a bid to stabilize came after years of political turmoil.
The public’s deep mistrust of politicians amid recurring scandals sent Icelanders to the polls five times between 2007 and 2017.
This is the first time since 2003 that the government has held a majority.
Climate change was high on the election agenda in Iceland due to the summer being exceptionally hot by Icelandic standards – with 59 days of temperatures above 20°C (68°F) – and shrinking glaciers.
But this did not appear to translate into increased support for any of the four left-wing parties that campaigned to cut carbon emissions by more than Iceland is committed to under the Paris climate agreement.
One of the candidates who saw her victory as a result of a recount was 21-year-old law student Linya Ran Karim, the daughter of Kurdish immigrants who ran for membership in the anti-establishment Pirate Party.
“That was a good nine hours,” said Karim, who would have been Iceland’s youngest ever legislator.