Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir

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Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir
Thorgerdur K. Gunnarsdottir, Islands kulturminister (cropped).jpg
Leader of the Reform Party
Assumed office
12 October 2017
Preceded byBenedikt Jóhannesson
Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture
In office
11 January 2017 – 30 November 2017
Prime MinisterBjarni Benediktsson
Preceded byGunnar Bragi Sveinsson
Succeeded byKristján Þór Júlíusson
Minister of Education, Science, and Culture
In office
31 December 2003 – 1 February 2009
Prime MinisterDavíð Oddsson
Halldór Ásgrímsson
Geir Haarde
Preceded byTómas Ingi Olrich
Succeeded byKatrín Jakobsdóttir
Personal details
Born (1965-10-04) 4 October 1965 (age 53)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political partyReform Party
(2016-present)
Independence Party
(1999-2016)
Spouse(s)Kristján Arason
Children3
Alma materUniversity of Iceland

Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir (born 4 October 1965) is an Icelandic politician, who has been chairman of the Reform Party since 2017.

Þorgerður was deputy chairman of the Independence Party from 2005–2010. She was the Minister of Education, Science and Culture from 31 December 2003 to 1 February 2009. After the Icelandic economic crash in 2008, Þorgerður was de facto leader of the government in Geir Haarde's absence owing to Geir having been diagnosed with cancer. She left the Independence Party in 2016 and joined the newly founded Reform Party and became its chairman the following year. She was Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture in 2017.

Family[edit]

Her father is Gunnar H. Eyjólfsson, an actor. Her husband is Kristján Arason. He was CEO of Retail Banking at Kaupthing Bank and was previously one of Iceland's most successful handball players. Þorgerður Katrín and Kristján have three children, Gunnar Ari (1995), Gísli Þorgeir (1999) and Katrín Erla (2003).

At the time of the Icelandic financial crisis her husband owed Kaupthing bank just under 900 million ISK which he had borrowed to purchase shares in the bank. The debt was never repaid, as the board of Kaupthing allowed their executives to transfer their loans and shares into private holding companies a few months before the bank was taken over by the Icelandic authorities. These companies subsequently defaulted.

Education[edit]

Þorgerður Katrín took stúdentspróf from Menntaskólanum við Sund in Reykjavík 1985. In her final year she was elected Chairman (Ármaður) of the School Association as the second woman to serve in this position. She subsequently studied law at the University of Iceland and served as a board member in Orator, the Law Students' Society.

Business career[edit]

After graduating with a Master of Law degree in 1993 Þorgerður Katrín began her career as a solicitor in a law firm at Höfðabakki. From 1997 to 1999 she was director of the Social and Current Affairs Department at the National Broadcasting Service. She worked for the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce during her break from politics 2013 to 2016.

Political career[edit]

During her time at university she served as a board member in Stefnir, the local Independence Party youth organization in Hafnarfjörður, and Vice-President of the Executive Committee of the Board of Representatives of the Independence Party in Hafnarfjörður.

She was elected to the Althing in 1999 for the constituency of Reykjanes and from 2003 (when the Reykjanes constituency was abolished) for the Southwest constituency.

Þorgerður Katrín was Minister of Education in Geir Haarde's government from 2003 to 2009 and functioned as de facto Prime Minister during the crash due to his illness. She served as deputy chairman of the Independence Party 2005 to 2010. Þorgerður Katrín resigned as deputy chairman on 17 April 2010 after being criticised for the handling of her and her husband Kristján Arason’s debts in Kaupthing Bank, which collapsed in October 2008. She subsequently took leave of absence from parliament and chose not to run for reelection in the 2013 election.

She joined the Reform Party shortly after it was founded in 2016 and was elected to the Althing for them in the 2016 election. Þorgerður Katrín subsequently became Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture in the short-lived government of Bjarni Benediksson. During the 2017 election campaign her party fell below the threshold in multiple polls and its founder Benedikt Jóhannesson therefore decided to step down as chairman in favour of Þorgerður.

References[edit]

http://www.visir.is/article/20081001/VIDSKIPTI06/961393008

Political offices
Preceded by
Tomas Ingi Olrich
Minister of Education, Science and Culture
2003–2009
Succeeded by
Katrin Jakobsdottir