Iceland elects businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir as president

LONDON (AP) — Halla Tomasdottir, a businesswoman and investor, has won Iceland’s presidential election, topping a crowded field of candidates in which the top three finishers were women, the country's national broadcast service reported.

Tomasdottir was elected to the largely ceremonial post with 34.3% of the vote, defeating former Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, with 25.2%, and Halla Hrund Logadottir, with 15.5%, RUV said Sunday.

Tomasdottir, 55, campaigned as someone who was above party politics and could help open discussions on fundamental issues such as the effect of social media on the mental health of young people, Iceland’s development as a tourist destination and the role of artificial intelligence.

She will replace President Gudni Th. Johannesson, who did not seek re-election after two four-year terms. Tomasdottir will take office on Aug. 1.

Iceland, a Nordic island nation located in the North Atlantic, has about 384,000 people and a long tradition of electing women to high office. Vigdis Finbogadottir was the first democratically elected female president of any nation when she became Iceland’s head of state in 1980.

The country has also seen two women serve as prime minister in recent years, providing stability during years of political turmoil. Johanna Sigurdardottir led the government from 2009-2013, after the global financial crisis ravaged Iceland’s economy. Jakobsdottir became prime minister in 2017, leading a broad coalition that ended the cycle of crises that had triggered three elections in four years. She resigned in April to run for president.

Tomasdottir first rose to prominence during the financial crisis, when she was hailed as the co-founder of Audur Capital, one of the few Icelandic investment firms that survived the upheaval. She is currently on leave as chief executive of the B Team, a non-profit organization that works to promote workplace diversity and has offices in New York and London.