Iceland has elected Gudni Johannesson as president, and he got to spend a terrific weekend with the first lady Eliza Reid, who was raised outside of Ottawa, Canada. He was elected head of state with 39.1 percent of the vote on Saturday night. On Sunday, he celebrated his 48th birthday with people and the media gathered outside his backyard to congratulate him for winning the election. And on Monday, he had the chance to travel to France and witness the excellent match between Iceland and England at the European Championship.

The former history professor left Iceland early Monday with his wife and their eldest son. Just after the election’s results were known, members of his campaign team left notes for the neighbors as they walked along the quiet seaside of the street where Johannesson lives with the Canadian first lady and their three children, who are younger than 8. The first family of Iceland will move into the nation’s presidential palace in August when the newly-elected president takes office.

Presidential candidate Gudni Johannesson casts his ballot at a polling station in Reykjavik, on June 25, 2016. Iceland began voting in a presidential election, two months after the Panama Papers scandal-tainted part of the political elite, with newcomer Gudni Johannesson seen clinching an easy victory. Credits: AFP / Halldor Kolbeins

Eliza Reid, 40, was surprised on Sunday morning when she stared out the window and learned that the media and the Icelanders were gathered outside of her backyard to say congratulations. She laughed a little as she explained to the Toronto Star that so dictates the Icelandic tradition, but it was all new for her.

“Outside of my backyard, they have set up a media marquee,” Reid told the Toronto Star. “So people are just going to come to our house.”

Media stood on the roof of a neighbor’s house, and Icelanders were there standing with their children on their shoulders as they were waiting to meet the first president elected in 20 years. The crowd that was gathering on the street behind Johannesson’s backyard were waving Icelandic flags and also a Canadian flag to honor the first lady, who grew up on a Canadian hobby farm.

Reid spoke to the crowd in Icelandic and introduced her husband. Her speech ended with “Happy Birthday” cheers and the moment was broadcast on national television. The first family moved last year into a house that is large and clad with beige aluminum siding, according to the site.

Johannesson’s journey to the presidency

The Panama Papers leaks revealed that the Icelandic prime minister was associated with offshore accounts. The wife of the former president was mentioned in the leaked documents, but her husband said he was not aware former first lady’s business abroad, which her lawyers remarked were not conducted out of the law. Both the president and the prime minister denied having done illegal activities.

However, the scandal led the minister to resign in April, and the nation learned that the president had no plans to run for a sixth term.

Gudni appeared several times on television as he was a history professor at the University of Iceland. The citizens were impressed by his knowledge of the national institutions and encouraged him to start a campaign to run for president.

“He isn’t trying to be something that he’s not, and people can see that,” she expressed, as quoted by the Toronto Star. “Especially after the Panama Papers scandal, it really came to light how important it is to have a good understanding of the constitution and the role of the presidency.”

The couple met in 1998 at Oxford University and married in 2004. Reid, a writer and an editor who has founded a writer’s retreat, has been living in Iceland with Gudni since 2003. She said she hoped her role of the first lady will help to regain the credibility of the institution of the presidency.

Source: Toronto Star