Last modified on 17 May 2013, at 21:15

Bjarni Benediktsson

This is an article about a former prime minister of Iceland. For the current leader of the Icelandic Independence Party, see Bjarni Benediktsson, Jr.


Bjarni Benediktsson
Prime Minister of Iceland
In office
14 November 1963 – 10 July 1970
President Ásgeir Ásgeirsson
Preceded by Ólafur Thors
Succeeded by Jóhann Hafstein
Personal details
Born (1908-04-30)30 April 1908
Died 10 July 1970(1970-07-10) (aged 62)
Political party Independence Party
This is an Icelandic name. The last name is a patronymic, not a family name; this person is properly referred to by the given name Bjarni .

Bjarni Benediktsson (30 April 1908 – 10 July 1970) was Prime Minister of Iceland from 14 November 1963 to 10 July 1970. His father, Benedikt Sveinsson (1877–1954), was a leader in the independence movement in Iceland and a member of Althingi from 1908 to 1931.

Bjarni studied constitutional law and became professor at the University of Iceland at the age of only 24. He was elected to the city council in Reykjavík in 1934 as a member of the Independence Party and from 1940 to 1947 was mayor of the city.

In 1947 he became Foreign Minister and served in various posts in cabinets until 1956. His tenure included the establishment of Iceland as a founding member of NATO in 1949. In 1956, when the left-wing parties formed a coalition government, Bjarni, out of office, became editor of Morgunblaðið, a leading conservative newspaper.

In 1959, when the Independence Party formed a coalition government with the Social Democrats, Bjarni became Minister of Justice. Two years later he was elected chairman of the Independence Party and in 1963 he took over from Ólafur Thors as Prime Minister. He served in this position until his death, which was caused by a fire at a government summer house at Þingvellir; his wife and grandson also perished in the blaze.

Bjarni was the father of Björn Bjarnason and the father-in-law of Vilmundur Gylfason.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Ólafur Thors
Chairman of the Independence Party
1961–1970
Succeeded by
Jóhann Hafstein
Preceded by
Ólafur Thors
Prime Minister of Iceland
1963–1970
Succeeded by
Jóhann Hafstein
Preceded by
Ólafur Thors
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1947–1953
Succeeded by
Kristinn Guðmundsson