Politics of the Faroe Islands

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The politics of the Faroe Islands function within the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands is the head of government,[1] and of a multi-party system. The Faroe Islands are politically associated with the Kingdom of Denmark, but have been self-governing since 1948. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Løgting. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature and the responsibility of Denmark. As of October 25, 2007, the Faroe Islands became one electoral district.

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
High Commissioner Dan M. Knudsen January 1, 2008
Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen Union Party September 26, 2008

The high commissioner is appointed by the Queen of Denmark. The High Commissioner has a seat in the Løgting, he or she is allowed to speak in the Løgting regarding common Danish/Faroese affairs, but he or she is not allowed to vote.[2] Following legislative elections, the leader of the party that wins the most seats is usually elected is, unless the current Løgmaður (Prime Minister in English) is still in power, given the initiative to establish a new coalition by the Faroese Parliament. However, if he fails, the Chairman of the parliament asks all chairmen of the parties elected to the parliament, and asks them to point to another chairman who they feel can rightly form a new coalition. The chairman with the most votes is then handed the initiative. After forming the coalition, the løgmaður leads the landsstýri. The landsstýri will often consist of around 7 members. The coalition parties divide the various ministries among themselves and after this, the parties elect their representative to these ministries. Any other member of the cabinet is called a landsstýrismaður if the person is a man, or landsstýriskvinna if the person is a woman. The word ráðharri is also used for a member of the cabinet, i.e. mentamálaráðharri (minister of culture) or heilsumálaráðharri (minister of health).

Current government[edit]

Kaj Leo Johannesen's second government consists of a coalition between Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin), People's Party (Fólkaflokkurin) and Centre Party (Miðflokkurin). Until 5 September 2013 the coalition also included the Self-Government Party (Sjálvstýrisflokkurin), but the party left the coalition after their minister had been sacked. Kári P. Højgaard was minister of internal affairs. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was closed after that.[3]

Minister Party From Until
Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen SB 14 November 2011
Deputy Prime Minister Annika Olsen FF 14 November 2011
Ministry Minister Party From Until
Ministry of Finance Jørgen Niclasen FF 14. November 2011
Ministry of Health Karsten Hansen MF 14. November 2011
Ministry of Culture Bjørn Kalsø SB 14. November 2011
Ministry of Internal Affairs Kári P. Højgaard SF 14 November 2011 5 September 2013
Ministry of Fisheries Jacob Vestergaard FF 16 February 2012
Jákup Mikkelsen FF 14 November 2011 15 February 2012
Ministry of Trade and Industry Johan Dahl SB 14 November 2011
Ministry of Social Affairs Annika Olsen FF 14 November 2011

Legislative branch[edit]

The Faroese Parliament (Løgtingið in Faroese) has 33 MPs (members of parliament), elected for a four year term by proportional representation.

Election of 2 seats to the Danish Parliament was last held on September 15, 2011: Social Democrats 1, Union Party 1.[4]

Political parties and elections[edit]

The Faroe Islands have a multi-party system (disputing on independence and unionism as well as left and right), with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. The Faroese Parliament (Løgting) has 33 seats. Members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. For the Løgting elections there were seven electoral districts, each one comprehending asýslur, while Streymoy is divided in a northern and southern part (Tórshavn region), but since 2008, the Faroes constitute a single district.[5]

The centre-right parties gained significantly, with both the pro-union Union Party and pro-independence People's Party gaining a seat each, while the new Progress movement (classical liberal) – formed seven months earlier as a breakaway from the People's Party – entered the Løgting with two seats.[6] The left-wing and centrist parties all lost ground in consequence.[7]


e • d Summary of the 29 October 2011 Løgting election results
Parties Votes +/−  % +/− Seats +/−
Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) 7,545 +1,016 24.7 +3.7 8 +1
People's Party (Fólkaflokkurin) 6,882 +642 22.5 +2.4 8 +1
Republic (Tjóðveldi) 5,584 −1,666 18.3 −5.0 6 −2
Social Democratic Party (Javnaðarflokkurin) 5,417 −601 17.7 −1.6 6 ±0
Progress (Framsókn) 1,933 New 6.3 New 2 New
Centre Party (Miðflokkurin) 1,882 −728 6.2 −2.2 2 −1
Self-Government Party (Sjálvstýrisflokkurin) 1,289 −995 4.2 −3.0 1 −1
Total (turnout 86.6%) 30,532 −580
Source: Kringvarp Føroya (Faroese)

Administrative divisions[edit]

The islands are administratively divided into 30 municipalities[8] with about 120 cities and villages.

Traditionally, there are also the 6 sýslur (Norðoyar, Eysturoy, Streymoy, Vágar, Sandoy and Suðuroy). Sýsla means district and although it is only a police district today, it is still commonly understood as a geographical region. In earlier times, each sýsla had its own ting, the so-called várting (spring ting).

International affairs[edit]

Along with diplomatic missions to Iceland, the Court of St. James and the European Union, the Faroe Islands participate in the Nordic Council, NIB, International Maritime Organization, International Whaling Commission
Complete list

Further reading[edit]

  • Debes, Hans Jacob. 1988. "Reflections on the Position, Participation and Co-Operation of Small Nations in International Politics Case The Faroe Islands". Nordic Journal of International Law. —. 573: 365–368.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]