Politics of the Faroe Islands

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Faroe Islands

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

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Queen Margarethe II of Denmark 14 January 1972
High Commissioner Dan M. Knudsen January 1, 2008
Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen Social Democratic Party September 15, 2015

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 given the initiative to establish a new coalition by the Faroese Parliament, unless the current Løgmaður (Prime Minister in English) is still in power. 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

Following the Faroese general election, 2015, a new government, consisting of three parties (Social Democratic Party, Republic, and Progress) under Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen, is formed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs re-established and a number of cabinet positions consolidated.[3]

Minister Party From Until
Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen JF 15 September 2015
Deputy Prime Minister Høgni Hoydal E 15 September 2015
Ministry Minister Party From Until
Ministry of Finance Kristina Háfoss E 15 September 2015
Ministry of Health Sirið Stenberg E 15 September 2015
Ministry of Education, Research and Culture Rigmor Dam JF 15 September 2015
Ministry of Internal Affairs Henrik Old JF 15 September 2015
Ministry of Fisheries Høgni Hoydal E 15 September 2015
Ministry of Business and Foreign Affairs Poul Michelsen F 15 September 2015
Ministry of Social Affairs Eyðgunn Samuelsen JF 15 September 2015

Legislative branch

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 June 18, 2015: Social Democrats 1, Republic 1.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in the Faroe Islands. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in the Faroe Islands.

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.[4]

 Summary of the 1 September 2015 Løgting election results
Parties Votes +/− % +/− Seats +/−
Social Democratic Party (Javnaðarflokkurin) 8,093 +2,665 25.1 +7.3 8 +2
Republic (Tjóðveldi) 6,691 +1,102 20.7 +2.5 7 +1
People's Party (Fólkaflokkurin) 6,102 -781 18.9 -3.6 6 -2
Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) 6,046 -1,500 18.7 -5.9 6 -2
Progress (Framsókn) 2,241 +308 7.0 +0.7 2 ±0
Centre Party (Miðflokkurin) 1,779 −104 5.5 −0.7 2 ±0
New Self-Government (Nýtt Sjálvstýri) 1,305 +15 4.1 −0.2 2 +1
Totals (electorate: 36,458; turnout 88.8% ) 32,374 +1,822
Source: KVF (turnout includes 'void' votes; the 117 void votes, 76 were blank and 41 invalid.)

Administrative divisions

The islands are administratively divided into 30 municipalities[5] 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

Along with diplomatic missions to Iceland, the Court of St. James's (United Kingdom), Russia and the European Union,[6] the Faroe Islands participate in the Nordic Council, NIB, International Maritime Organization, International Whaling Commission (Complete list of participation of the Faroe Islands in international organisations).

Further reading

  • 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


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