Icelandic presidential election, 2004
A presidential election was held in Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 on Saturday, 26 June 2004.

Traditionally, Icelandic presidential elections in which the incumbent president indicates a wish to obtain a new mandate are uncontested. The current president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the fifth and current President of Iceland. He has served as President since 1996; he was unopposed in 2000, re-elected for a third term in 2004, and re-elected unopposed for a fourth term in 2008. He is the longest-serving left-wing president in the history of...

, was first elected in 1996 with 40.9% of the vote, in an election with an 85.9% turnout contested by four candidates. In 2000 he was re-elected without opposition. When Ólafur Ragnar announced his intention to seek another mandate in 2004, two other candidates emerged:
Ástþór Magnússon, a businessman and pacifism activist, who won 2.6% of the vote in the 1996 election and failed to obtain the necessary 1,500 supporters when he attempted to stand in the 2000 election, and
Baldur Ágústsson, who was unknown to the general public.

Unlike parliamentary elections in Iceland, presidential elections are not fought on the basis of party politics; instead, candidates attempt to use their personalities to attract supporters and appear as a living symbol of national unity.

By tradition, the presidency is an almost entirely powerless office, as the presidents almost never use the powers granted to them by the constitution
Constitution of Iceland
The Constitution of Iceland is the supreme law of Iceland. It is composed of 80 articles in seven sections, and within it the leadership arrangement of the country is determined and the human rights of its citizens are preserved. The current constitution was first instituted on June 17, 1944; since...

, instead just exercising moral authority. Ólafur Ragnar, however, has expressed a wish to have a public discussion on the role of the head of state. Unprecedentedly in the history of the Icelandic Republic, on 2 June 2004 Ólafur Ragnar vetoed a media ownership law passed by the Althing
The Alþingi, anglicised variously as Althing or Althingi, is the national parliament of Iceland. The Althingi is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still extant...

. Davíð Oddsson
Davíð Oddsson
Davíð Oddsson is an Icelandic politician and the longest-serving Prime Minister of Iceland, holding office from 1991 to 2004. He also served as Foreign Minister from 2004 to 2005. Previously, he was Mayor of Reykjavík from 1982 to 1991, and he chaired the board of governors of the Central Bank of...

, who was Prime Minister at the time, claimed that the veto was tainted because the president's daughter worked for Baugur Group, which had recently acquired roughly half of the country's media. There was little doubt that Ólafur Ragnar would be re-elected, but the veto controversy had an effect on the voting – the unprecedentedly high number of empty ballots (20.6% of the total) was thought to be largely a protest of the veto.

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