Iceland elects first new president in 20 years

Presidential candidate Gudni Johannesson casts his ballot at a polling station in Reykjavik on Saturday.

Story highlights

  • Jóhannesson won 39% of the vote
  • The new head of state turned 48 on Sunday

(CNN)A political outsider has won Iceland's presidential election after riding a wave of public anti-establishment sentiment in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, a historian, clinched a majority victory over other establishment candidates by winning 39.1% of the country's vote in Saturday's election, according to Icelandic state broadcaster RUV.
"The last few weeks have been unforgettable. Life changing, and in the best possible way. I am, and always will be, forever grateful to all - for the time you have shared to listen to my vision, and for the boundless support and encouragement you have given me. Thank you," Jóhannesson said in a statement posted on his website after his win.
    Jóhannesson's bid for office followed the resignation of Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson after the Panama Papers scandal revealed personal financial arrangements that critics say shattered public confidence in the island country's leadership.
    In April, protesters packed the streets outside the country's parliament in Reykjavik in outrage. Two days later Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, who had been the country's agriculture minister, was sworn in as Prime Minister.
    Though Iceland's presidential post is largely ceremonial, Jóhannesson's non-partisan platform won the favor of the majority of voters in this Nordic country of 320,000 people.
    Jóhannesson celebrated his win Sunday -- his 48th birthday -- with his wife and four children in the capital city of Reykjavík, where he was born, RUV reported.
    He will replace President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, 73, who has served as Iceland's head of state since 1996.