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Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (born 14 May 1943, in Ísafjörður, Iceland) is the fifth and current President of Iceland, from 1996 to present, re-elected unopposed in 2000, and was re-elected for a third term in 2004.

From 1962 to 1970, he studied economics and political science at the University of Manchester. He was a professor at the University of Iceland for political science, served as Member of Althing, was Minister of Finance (1988–1991) and served as chairman of the left People's Alliance (1987–1995).

He married Guðrún Katrín Þorbergsdóttir in 1974, who gave birth to twin daughters the following year. Guðrún Katrín was very popular in Iceland, and her charisma is without a doubt one of the main reasons her husband was elected; she charmed the nation right from the start of their campaign. Her death from leukaemia in 1998 was a shock to the nation and her family.

Ólafur's second marriage was to Dorrit Moussaieff to whom he had been engaged since May 2000. This took place on his 60th birthday 14 May 2003 in a private ceremony held at the presidential residence.

He is the first president to use the authorization given in the 26th article of the Icelandic constitution to refuse to sign a law from Alþingi, in which case the law in question would be put to a national referendum. He did that on June 2, 2004 to a law about the mass media. His decision remains controversial with politicians and legal scholars alike. Some have claimed the refusal to sign the law as "an attack" on Alþingi and parliamentary sovereignty and lawyers debate whether article 26 is actually valid. No national referendum was ever held about the controversial media law as the government withdrew the law before a referendum could be held.

In the 2004 presidential elections, Ólafur was firmly re-elected with 67.5 per cent of the votes cast, but that election also saw a record number of empty ballots of 21.2 per cent — which has been interpreted by some as dissent with the president's decision to not sign the media law. It has been suggested since that the constitution ought to be changed as to take away the right of the president to refuse to sign laws, and rest that power with the people themselves, who could then force referendums to be held on laws by – for instance – collecting a certain number of signatures.



Preceded by:
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
President of Iceland
1996–
Succeeded by:

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