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ICELAND REVIEW, LE FIGARO MADAME (France)

REYKJAVIK – This Sunday, when Iceland goes to the polls to elect its next president, the choice is rather stark. There is the white-haired incumbent, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson,69, and there is Thora Arnórsdóttir, who is not only a 37-year-old newcomer to politics, but also just gave birth last month to her third child.

Thora (in Iceland, people are referred to by their first names) is an unlikely candidate. A journalist and news editor at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV) she only announced her intention to run against Ólafur in April when more than seven months pregnant. Her daughter was born on May 18.

She is not married to her partner Svavar Halldórsson, who is also a reporter at the RÚV and is divorced with three children of his own. Svavar has said that if Thora was elected, he would resign from his job to raise their six children, do some gardening and write a cookbook, reports Le Figaro Madame.

Thora told Iceland Review that her family experience would be as useful in the presidency as her professional background, "having to coordinate my personal life and work to the extreme since I started a family has given me a wide perspective and an ability to prioritize."

With a population of 320,000, Iceland was one of the first European countries to give women the right to vote (1918), to go to university (1911), or to have equal pay between men and women (1945 and 1961), reports Le Figaro Madame. Iceland was also the first country to elect a woman President in 1980: Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, a single mother. She was reelected three times and remains today hugely popular.

In Iceland, 80 percent of women work. In 2010 a quota law was voted forcing boardrooms had to have at least 40 percent women, which will come into effect in 2013. Women are already very well represented in this country: if Thora wins, there will be a female president, a female prime minister (Johanna Sigurdardóttir), a female president of parliament (Asta Ragnheidhur Johannesdóttir) and a female bishop (reverend Agnes Sigurdardóttir).

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