Katrín Jakobsdóttir

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Katrín Jakobsdóttir
Katrín in 2023
28th Prime Minister of Iceland
Assumed office
30 November 2017
PresidentGuðni Th. Jóhannesson
Preceded byBjarni Benediktsson
Chair of the Left-Green Movement
Assumed office
24 February 2013
Preceded bySteingrímur J. Sigfússon
Minister of Education, Science and Culture
In office
2 February 2009 – 23 May 2013
Prime MinisterJóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Preceded byÞorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir
Succeeded byIllugi Gunnarsson
Personal details
Born (1976-02-01) 1 February 1976 (age 47)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political partyLeft-Green Movement
SpouseGunnar Sigvaldason
Alma materUniversity of Iceland

Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Icelandic: [ˈkʰaːtʰrin ˈjaːkʰɔpsˌtouʰtɪr̥]; born 1 February 1976) is an Icelandic politician who has been serving as the prime minister of Iceland since 2017 and a member of the Althing for the Reykjavík North constituency since 2007.

A graduate of the University of Iceland, she became deputy chairperson of the Left-Green Movement in 2003, and has been their chairperson since 2013. Katrín was Iceland's minister of education, science, and culture, and of Nordic co-operation from 2 February 2009 to 23 May 2013.[1] She is Iceland's second female prime minister, after Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. On 19 February 2020, she was named Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.[2]


Katrín graduated from the University of Iceland in 1999 with a bachelor's degree, with a major in Icelandic and a minor in French.[3]

She went on to complete a Master of Arts degree in Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland in 2004, for a thesis on the work of popular Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indriðason.[1]

Non-political career[edit]

Katrín worked part-time as a language adviser at the news agency at public broadcaster RÚV from 1999 to 2003. She then freelanced for broadcast media, and wrote for a variety of print media from 2004 to 2006, as well as being an instructor in life-long learning and leisure at the Mímir School from 2004 to 2007. She did editorial work for the publishing company Edda and magazine JPV from 2005 to 2006, and was a lecturer at the University of Iceland, Reykjavík University, and Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík from 2006 to 2007.[4]

Political career[edit]

Katrín became deputy chairwoman of the Left-Green Movement in 2003, and has been their chairperson since 2013.[4]

She has been a member of the Alþingi for the Reykjavík North constituency since 2007.[1]

Katrín was Iceland's minister of education, science, and culture, and of Nordic co-operation from 2 February 2009 to 23 May 2013.[1]

Prime Minister (2017–present)[edit]

Katrín meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Reykjavík in May 2021
Katrín with Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin at Kesäranta in Helsinki in April 2022

Before becoming Prime Minister, Katrín was chairperson of the Left-Green Movement.[5] In the wake of the 2017 Icelandic parliamentary election, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson tasked her with forming a governing coalition to consist of the Left-Green Movement, the Progressive Party, the Social Democratic Alliance, and the Pirate Party.[6] Coalition talks between the four parties formally began on 3 November 2017,[7] but were unsuccessful because of Progressive Party concerns that her coalition would have too thin a majority.[8] As a result, Katrín sought to lead a three-party coalition with the Independence Party and Progressive Party. After coalition talks were completed, President Guðni formally granted her a mandate to lead the government, which was installed on 30 November.[9][10]

Political analysts note that Katrín Jakobsdóttir's government has been able to maintain stability through a coalition comprising the Left-Green Movement, the Progressive Party, and the Independence Party. This stability has been attributed to a balanced approach that incorporates different political perspectives, including a focus on regional support and primary industries as well as a cautious stance on European integration.[11]

As Prime Minister, Katrín has implemented a range of policies aimed at social betterment. These include making the tax system more progressive, investing in social housing, extending parental leave, and taking steps to reduce gender pay inequality. To maintain coalition stability, she has also made some compromises, such as forgoing the establishment of a national park in the country's centre.[12]

By September 2021, nearly four years after taking office, Katrín's leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic received positive reviews. While Iceland's small size and geographical isolation may have contributed to its relatively low death toll, the country's proactive measures under her guidance were also a factor.[13] Tourism was reintroduced cautiously, although there was a subsequent increase in COVID-19 cases.

In the 2021 parliamentary elections, the Left-Green Movement lost three of its 11 seats in the Parliament, but the coalition government still retained its majority. Negotiations among the coalition parties subsequently began to renew their agreement. Polls taken in the aftermath of the election showed a significant majority of Icelanders supported Katrín's continued role in government.[14]

In October 2023, she gained international attention for going on strike with women and non-binary people in calling for pay equality and action against gender-based violence. The strike is also the first of its kind since 1975.[15]

Political positions[edit]

Katrín opposes Icelandic membership of NATO, but as part of the compromise between the Left-Greens and their coalition partners, the government does not intend to withdraw from NATO or hold a referendum on NATO membership.[16] Katrín also opposes Iceland joining the European Union (EU).[17][18] The coalition government does not intend to hold a referendum on restarting Iceland's accession negotiations with the EU.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

Katrín is married to Gunnar Sigvaldason, and the mother of three sons (born 2005, 2007, and 2011). Her father, Jakob Ármannsson, was an educator and banker and her mother, Signý Thoroddsen, was a psychologist.[4]

She hails from a family which has produced many prominent people in Icelandic politics, academia, and literature. She is the younger sister of twin brothers Ármann Jakobsson and Sverrir Jakobsson, who are both professors in the humanities at the University of Iceland. Katrín is the great-granddaughter of the politician and judge Skúli Thoroddsen and the poet Theodóra Thoroddsen. Her maternal grandfather was engineer and MP Sigurður S. Thoroddsen. The poet Dagur Sigurðarson is her maternal uncle.[1]

Her debut crime novel "Reykjavík: A Crime Story," co-written with best-selling Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson, was published in October 2022,[19][20] with an English translation published in September 2023.[21][22]

International cooperation[edit]

Meeting with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh, 2019

Katrín has been a member of the following committees:[1]

  • Icelandic Delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (since 2017)
  • Icelandic Delegation to the EFTA and EEA Parliamentary Committees (2014–2016)
  • EU-Iceland joint Parliamentary Committee (Deputy Chair 2014–2016)
  • Icelandic delegation to the West Nordic Council (2013–2014)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Secretariat of Althingi, retrieved 31 January 2009
  2. ^ "Her Excellency, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland Appointed Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders". Council of Women World Leaders. 19 February 2020. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  3. ^ Brandsma, Elliott. "Education is Our Best Investment". Stúdentablaðið. University of Iceland. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Katrín Jakobsdóttir". Alþingi (in Icelandic). Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  5. ^ Martyn-Hemphill, Richard (30 November 2017). "An Environmentalist Is Iceland's New Prime Minister". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Katrín komin með umboðið". Morgunblaðið. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  7. ^ Sigurður Bogi Sævarsson (3 November 2017). "Málefnunum skipt í tvennt". Morgunblaðið. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Iceland's leftist parties fail to form government". Yahoo/AFP. 6 November 2017. Archived from the original on 13 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Iceland's Left-Green leader Jakobsdóttir becomes new PM". BBC News. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  10. ^ Jón Pétur Jónsson (28 November 2017). "Katrín fær stjórnarmyndunarumboðið". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  11. ^ Hardarson, Ólafur Th; Kristinsson, Gunnar Helgi (2019). "Iceland: Political Developments and Data in 2018". European Journal of Political Research Political Data Yearbook. 58: 132–135. doi:10.1111/2047-8852.12267. ISSN 2047-8852. S2CID 214060768.
  12. ^ "Législatives en Islande: plus de 47 % de femmes parmi les nouveaux élus". Le Monde (in French). 26 September 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  13. ^ "L'Islande aux urnes avec un casse-tête politique en vue". Ouest-France (in French). 23 September 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  14. ^ Fontaine, Andie Sophia (13 October 2021). "Poll: Largest Share Of Those Polled Want Katrín Jakobsdóttir To Continue As Prime Minister". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  15. ^ "Iceland's first full-day women's strike in 48 years aims to close pay gap". The Guardian. 23 October 2023. Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  16. ^ "Iceland PM: Equality requires clear policy". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Þjóðaratkvæðagreiðsla um Evrópusambandsaðild ekki forgangsmál hjá Vinstri grænum". Vísir (in Icelandic). 23 October 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Össur segir kjósendur VG vilja í ESB". mbl.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  19. ^ ‘It’s a therapeutic genre for me’: Iceland’s PM releases debut crime novel
  20. ^ Prime Minister by Day, Noir Writer by Night
  21. ^ Reykjavík
  22. ^ Reykjavík

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Left-Green Movement
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Education, Science and Culture
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Iceland
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders