President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who at 72 is due to retire in June after five terms and 20 years in office, is expected to approve Mr Johannsson’s appointment. Iceland’s next legislative elections were originally scheduled for April 2017. Mr Gunnlaugsson, who remains the head of the Progressive Party for the time being, was the first major political casualty to emerge from the leak of millions of documents detailing offshore accounts held by world leaders and celebrities.
Two other Iceland cabinet ministers have been singled out in the leak – Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and Interior Minister Olof Nordal – and the coalition is keen to stall for time to avoid what would surely be a resounding protest vote if a snap election were held soon.
The coalition parties “have lost all their legitimacy, but I am sceptical they will leave of their own initiative. Time is on their side and it’s crucial for them to stay in power,” lamented Gyda Margret Petursdottir, a 42-year-old teacher who was one of hundreds who protested against the government outside parliament on Wednesday.