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How one hashtag led to Iceland government collapse over pedophile furor

Published: Updated:

Icelanders, angry over a string of political scandals, ousted their centre-right government in an election that could pave the way for a charismatic young opposition leader to form a left-leaning coalition, final vote counts showed on Sunday.

Incumbent Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson called the snap election in September, after less than a year in government as a scandal involving his father prompted the Bright Future party to drop out of his ruling coalition, citing a breach of trust.

According to a statement by the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, the Icelandic government collapsed because women spoke out, many using the hashtag #höfumhátt literally meaning “let’s be loud” or “speak out”.

“A watershed took place in Icelandic society last night when the government collapsed, not because of money, not because of political disagreement of professional politicians, but because women spoke out. People spoke out. People spoke out about violence which women and children were subjected to,” the statement read.

Benediktsson’s father, Benedikt Sveinsson, sought a pardon for Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson, who was sentenced in 2004 to five years in prison for raping his stepdaughter over a 12-year period. Under Iceland’s penal code, offenders can apply for a process to have their “honor restored” if three citizens vouch for their character in letters of recommendation. Sveinsson wrote such letter according to the New York Times.