Iceland to Appoint First Openly Gay Woman as PM

Ex-flight attendant to lead until May elections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 28, 2009 9:30 AM CST
Protesters burn an effigy of the Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde during a demonstration over the handling of the financial crisis in Reykjavik.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Iceland is set to appoint the world's first openly gay woman as prime minister: a former flight attendant who rose through the political ranks to become a cabinet minister. Johanna Sigurdardottir, the 66-year-old social affairs minister, is the pick of the Social Democratic Alliance Party to lead an interim government. Sigurdardottir's appointment is expected to be confirmed within days. She would lead Iceland until general elections, expected in May.

Iceland's conservative-led government failed Monday, after the country's banks collapsed last fall under the weight of huge debts. Sigurdardottir "is a senior parliamentarian, she is respected and loved by all of Iceland," said a fellow Alliance party member. She was first elected to Iceland's parliament in 1978. She became a minister in 1987 and has held her current post since 1999. Despite her veteran status, many Icelanders regard her as a maverick and respect her work promoting the welfare of minority groups.