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EU referendum plan re-emerges in Iceland

EU referendum emerges as an important factor in ongoing negotiations in Iceland to form a new coalition government 

2 January 2017, 7:50pm
Iceland could hold a referendum on joining the EU is new negotiations on forming a coalition government prove successful, the head of one of the three political parties involved in the talks has said.

Icelandic politicians have been locked in negotiations over forming a new government since a snap election last October, after revelations in the Panama Papers forced prime minister Sigmund David Gunnlaugsson to resign.

The centre-right and euroskeptic Independence Party is now in talks with the liberal Reform party and Bright Future over forming a new government. News agency AFP quoted Bright Future’s leader Ottarr Proppe as saying that an EU membership referendum had re-emerged as an important factor in the negotiations.

Iceland had applied to join the EU in 2009 under a left-wing government during the financial crisis, but scrapped its bid in 2015. The then-foreign minister said that Iceland’s interests were “better served” outside the EU.

Surveys indicate that a majority in the North Atlantic nation of 330,000 people oppose EU membership, but that they are in favour of holding a referendum to decide the issue.