Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson

This is an Icelandic name. The last name is a patronymic, not a family name; this person is properly referred to by the given name Sigmundur Davíð.
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
25th Prime Minister of Iceland
In office
23 May 2013  7 April 2016
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Preceded by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Succeeded by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Minister of Justice
In office
26 August 2014  4 December 2014
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Preceded by Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir (Interior)
Succeeded by Ólöf Nordal (Interior)
Chairman of the Progressive Party
In office
18 January 2009  2 October 2016
Preceded by Valgerður Sverrisdóttir
Succeeded by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Personal details
Born (1975-03-12) 12 March 1975
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political party Progressive Party
Spouse(s) Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir
Children 1
Alma mater University of Iceland
University of Cambridge
Net worth US$13.9 million (August 2010) (November 2016 inflation adjusted)

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈsɪɣmʏntʏr ˈtaːvið ˈkʏnløyxsɔn]; born 12 March 1975) is an Icelandic politician who was the youngest serving Prime Minister of Iceland from May 2013 until April 2016. He was also chairman of the Progressive Party from 2009 to October 2016.[1] He was elected to the Althing (Iceland's parliament) as the 8th member for the Reykjavík Constituency North on 25 April 2009. He has represented the Northeast Constituency as its 1st member since 27 April 2013.

Following the release of the Panama Papers, he announced on 5 April 2016 that he would step aside from the office of Prime Minister. On 7 April 2016 he was replaced as Prime Minister by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, who also replaced him as chairman of the Progressive Party on 2 October 2016.[1]

Early life

Sigmundur Davíð is the son of former member of the Icelandic parliament Gunnlaugur M. Sigmundsson.[2]

Sigmundur Davíð holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Iceland.[3] He participated in a student exchange with the University of Copenhagen to Plekhanov University in Moscow, and also studied at the University of Oxford, though he did not earn a degree there.[4] He was a Chevening scholar at the University of Cambridge in 2004.[5]

Sigmundur Davíð worked as a journalist and as a television host at RUV from 2000 to 2007. He was president of the Nordic Economics Students' Union between 2000 and 2002 and a member of the Reykjavík City Planning Council from 2008 to 2010.[4]

Political career

Sigmundur Davíð first rose to prominence in Iceland as a spokesperson for the InDefence movement, which fought foreign creditors' attempts to make Iceland pay £2.3 billion in compensation to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands following the collapse and subsequent nationalisation of Iceland's three banks. As Eirikur Bergmann wrote in The Guardian, "This was the most serious diplomatic crisis the country had ever fought and Gunnlaugsson was at the forefront of it."[6] He and his wife Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir already owned the offshore company Wintris at the time, having bought it in 2007 from Mossack Fonseca through the Luxembourg branch of Landsbanki and registered it in the British Virgin Islands.[7]

He was elected chairman of the Progressive Party on 18 January 2009 with 40.9% of party member votes, beating Höskuldur Þórhallsson (37.9%).[8] On 22 January 2009, Sigmundur Davíð proposed the support of the Progressive Party's seven votes in the Althing for a minority coalition between the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement, as an alternative to the ruling coalition between the Independence Party and the Social Democratic Alliance, with the aim of forcing early elections.[9] The next day, Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced elections for 9 May 2009, in which for health reasons he would not be a candidate.

The unstable króna during the bank financial crisis led some to propose adopting the euro. But Jürgen Stark of the European Central Bank said this would require joining the European Union.[10] As of May 2012, Iceland did not meet any of the convergence criteria.[11] The country managed to comply with the deficit criteria in 2013 and had begun to decrease its debt-to-GDP ratio,[12] but still had elevated HICP inflation and long-term governmental interest rates.[13][14]

In the 27 April 2013 Althing elections, the Progressive Party and Independence Party each won 19 seats.[15] On 30 April President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson asked Sigmundur Davíð to form a new government.[16] On 23 May 2013, Sigmundur Davíð, as chairman of the Progressive Party, became Iceland’s new prime minister while the leader of the Independence Party, Bjarni Benediktsson, took up the position of Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.[17] At 38 years old, Sigmundur Davíð was the youngest prime minister in the history of the Icelandic Republic and the world's youngest democratically elected head of government at the time.[18]

Sigmundur Davíð said in 2013 that talks with creditors were proceeding more slowly than he would like. Many of the banks' original creditors sold the debt at a steep discount to foreign hedge funds, and a writedown was "necessary" because paying off all of the banks' liabilities would cause currency collapse because of the amount of Icelandic krónur that would be converted in making the payments.[19]

Sigmundur Davíð called for increased regional cooperation among Nordic and Baltic Sea countries in a 2014 journal article, through bodies such as the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Nordic Dimension and the Arctic Council.[20]

Panama Papers revelations

See also: Panama Papers

Sigmundur Davíð was interviewed in April 2016 by the Swedish television station SVTs investigative programme Uppdrag granskning.[21][22] The interviewer told Sigmundur Davíð that the interview would focus on Iceland's recovery after its financial crisis. During this interview Sigmundur Davíð said it was very important for everyone to pay a fair share into society and that paying less than one's share constituted cheating society.[21][23]

When the interviewer asked if he had any connections to a foreign company, he replied that his financial assets had always been reported transparently. When asked specifically about his connections to Wintris, a foreign company and a creditor of failed Icelandic banks, he said he had disclosed all requested information to the government and was unsure how the transactions actually worked.[21] Sigmundur Davíð then said the interviewer was making something suspicious out of nothing, and walked out of the interview.[22][24] He and his wife both made public statements about "journalist encroachment in their private lives" and insisted their disclosures were complete.[23]

News coverage of the release of the Panama Papers had revealed that he and his wife shared ownership of Wintris, bought to invest his wife's inheritance, and also that Sigmundur Davíð had failed to disclose his 50% share when he entered the parliament in 2009. Eight months later, he sold his share of the company to his wife for one US dollar,[25][26] the day before a new law took effect that would have required him to disclose his ownership as a conflict of interest.[27]

In 2015, he entered into an agreement with the creditors of failed Icelandic banks, including his wife.[28] According to RÚV, Wintris Inc. has registered a claim of ISK 174 million (US $1.37 million, €1.23 million) as a bond holder against the assets of the bankruptcy estate of Landsbanki. It is claiming a total of 515 million Icelandic krónur (£3m) between the three failed Icelandic banks: Landsbanki, Glitnir, and Kaupthing.[27] These banks had a total business volume nine times Iceland's gross domestic product just before they collapsed and the country had to obtain a loan from the IMF to stabilize its currency. The króna collapsed after the bank failure, which led to very high inflation of 18% to 20% for six months to a year.[29]

Resignation from the office of Prime Minister

Following the Panama Papers revelations, there were widespread calls for Sigmundur Davíð to resign. Former Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was among those making them.[30] Sigmundur Davíð said he would not resign. He apologized for his behavior during the interview however, saying that he should not have left. Under growing pressure, with large anti-government protests in front of the parliament,[31] and calls for a snap election from the Althing, Sigmundur Davíð asked President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to dissolve parliament. He refused, noting he "was not ready to agree to [dissolving parliament] until [he] had discussions with the leaders of other parties on their stand".[32]

Sigmundur Davíð stepped aside as Prime Minister on 5 April 2016.[31] Shortly after initial reports of Sigmundur Davíð's resignation, the Prime Minister's office in Iceland issued a statement to the international press saying that Sigmundur Davíð had not resigned, but rather stepped aside for an unspecified amount of time and would continue to serve as the Chairman of the Progressive Party.[33][34] He refused to talk to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, and called police when he found reporters from Aftenposten waiting for him at his home.[35]

Ingólfur Bjarni Sigfússon of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service told an Australian news program that the lesson of the Panama Papers is that "people aren't ready to accept their double morality, that one set of rules applies to us and another set applies to them. They better play by the rules, they better be honest, they better pay their taxes, they better not try to use their positions to curry favour with someone or privatise state belongings."[28] Iceland's government named Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson as interim Prime Minister on 6 April 2016 and called for early autumn elections, effectively ending Sigmundur Davíð's role as PM. It was suggested that autumn elections would give the government "time to follow through on one of the biggest economic policy changes within Iceland in decades".[36]

Personal life

Sigmundur Davíð and Anna Sigurlaug lived in the United Kingdom when Wintris was established, Anna Sigurlaug said in a Facebook post on 15 March. She said it was unclear at the time whether the couple would return to the UK or move to Denmark.[37]

According to Vísir, Anna Sigurlaug is one of Iceland’s wealthiest women; she received a share of the proceeds when her father, who owned the sole Toyota dealership in Iceland, sold it in 2005.[37]



  1. 1 2 "Sigurður Ingi kjörinn formaður Framsóknar". 2016-10-02. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  2. "Pabbi Sigmundar ósáttur: Einkavinir Jóhönnu og Steingríms kallaðir til sem sérfræðingar". Visir. April 3, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  3. "Brautskráðir kandidatar frá hagfræðideild – Háskóli Íslands". University of Iceland. Retrieved May 29, 2014.. (Icelandic)
  4. 1 2 "Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson". Alþingi (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  5. "Directory of Chevening Alumni". Chevening UK Government Scholarships. 24 August 2014.
  6. Bergmann, Eirikur (5 April 2016). "Iceland is in crisis mode. It feels like 2009 all over again". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  7. Ferro, Shane (April 3, 2016). "Icelandic Prime Minister Had Stake in Failed Banks, Leaks Suggest". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  8. "Sigmundur kjörinn formaður", Morgunblaðið, 18 January 2009. (Icelandic)
  9. Opposition attempts to call Iceland elections, bypassing PM, IceNews, 22 January 2009
  10. "Iceland cannot adopt the Euro without joining EU, says Stark". IceNews. 23 February 2008. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  11. "Convergence Report May 2012" (PDF). European Central Bank. May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  12. "European economic forecast – Winter 2013" (PDF). European Commission. 22 February 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  13. "HICP (2005=100): Monthly data (12-month average rate of annual change)". Eurostat. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  14. "Long-term interest rate statistics for EU Member States (monthly data for the average of the past year)". Eurostat. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  15. Iceland vote: Centre-right opposition wins election, BBC News, 28 April 2013, retrieved 1 May 2013
  16. Robert Roberson; Balazs Koranyi (30 April 2013), Iceland's center-right Progressives to form new government, Reuters, retrieved 1 May 2013
  17. "Iceland Election: Sigmundur Davíð to be Prime Minister" Iceland Review, 18 May 2013, retrieved 19 May 2013
  18. "Young Guns". Iceland Review. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  19. Balazs Koranyi (October 30, 2013). "Iceland's debt talks slow, onus on 'cosy' creditors: PM". Reuters. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  20. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (20 April 2014). Kari Liuhto; Saara Majuri, eds. "Together we stand stronger – the importance of regional co-operation" (PDF). Baltic Rim Economies. Pan-European Institute, University of Turku. ISSN 1459-9759.
  21. 1 2 3 "Isländsk ilska växer efter statsminister-avslöjande". (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  22. 1 2 "Statsministern går – mitt i intervjun". (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  23. 1 2 "Uppdrag Granskning avslöjar "historiens största läcka"". Dagens Media (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  24. "Iceland's prime minister walks out of interview over tax haven question – video". the Guardian. 3 April 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  25. Paul Fontaine (4 April 2016). "PM Apologises For Behaviour, Says Will Not Resign". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Fröken Ltd.
  26. "Islands Premier parkte Geld in der Karibik". Tagesschau (in German). 3 April 2016.
  27. 1 2 "Iceland's PM says he will not resign in Panama Papers scandal". Belfast Telegraph. April 4, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016. He allegedly sold his half of the company to Palsdottir for one US dollar on 31 December 31, 2009, the day before a new Icelandic law took effect that would have required him to declare the ownership of Wintris as a conflict of interest.
  28. 1 2 "Panama Papers: Iceland PM Gunnlaugsson urged to resign amid Mossack Fonseca data leak". ABC News (Australia). 3 April 2016.
  29. Annabelle Quince; Keri Phillips (April 24, 2016). "Iceland and the Panama Papers". Rear Vision. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  30. "Jóhanna segir Sigmund verða að segja af sér". RÚV (in Icelandic). 3 April 2016.
  31. 1 2 Henley, Jon (5 April 2016). "Iceland PM steps aside after protests over Panama Papers revelations". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
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  33. "Prime Minister has not resigned – sends press release to international media". Iceland Monitor. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  34. Sandhu, Serina (6 April 2016). "Iceland Prime Minister 'not resigning' over Panama Papers, just stepping aside for 'unspecified amount of time'". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
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  37. 1 2 Vala Hafstad (March 16, 2016). "PM's Wife Owns Company Abroad". Iceland Review.
  38. Manila (7 January 2016). "Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson". Ethnicelebs. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Valgerður Sverrisdóttir
Leader of the Progressive Party
Succeeded by
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Political offices
Preceded by
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Prime Minister of Iceland
Succeeded by
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
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