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Europe

Iceland's Pirates see lackluster support as Independence makes election gains

The Icelandic upstart Pirate Party has witnessed lower-than-expected results at the polls. The party's leader said they had not expected to gain the most votes in the first elections since the Panama Papers leaks.

Iceland's incumbent Independence Party look set to win Saturday's elections after officials counted more than 40 percent of the ballots, state broadcaster RUV reported.

The ruling coalition partner gained approximately 30 percent of the vote. The Pirate Party garnered fewer than 14 percent, marking a substantially lower performance than pre-elections polls suggested.

Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson said he was "extremely happy" with the results announced early Sunday.

Given the party's strong support at the polls, it would be "extremely hard not to include us" in the incoming government, Benediktsson added.

Pirate Party leader Birgitta Jonsdottir told Reuters news agency that they had not expected to gain the most votes.

"Our internal predictions showed 10 to 15 percent, so this (the first results) is at the top of the range. We knew that we would never get 30 percent," Jonsdottir said at a post-election gathering.

Progressive Party problems

Meanwhile, senior coalition partner Progressive Party received less than 11 percent of the vote. The party has lost support in the wake of former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson's resignation in April after the publication of the Panama Papers leaks.

Documents showed that Gunnlaugsson had links with an offshore tax haven that held millions of dollars in debt from Iceland's failed banks.

Polls show that neither of Iceland's political parties have sufficient support to govern without a coalition. Final results are expected later Sunday.

ls/jm (AP, Reuters, AFP)