Iceland elects businesswoman Halla Tomasdottir as new president, beating former PM

FILE PHOTO: Halla Tomasdottir, Founder and Chair at Sisters Capital, takes part in a plenary session labeled "Women Decision-Makers in the Global Economy," at the Clinton Global Initiative 2013 in New York

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Halla Tomasdottir, an entrepreneur, has won Iceland's presidential election and will take over the mostly ceremonial role from incumbent Gudni Johannesson, broadcaster RUV reported on Sunday.

Tomasdottir, 55, received 34% of the votes cast in Saturday's election in the North Atlantic nation, to beat former Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, who stepped down as premier in April to run for president. She garnered 25% of votes, according to RUV.

The president, who is elected for a four-year term, carries limited political powers but often acts as a uniting figure in the island nation of almost 400,000 people, which is a NATO member.

Tomasdottir, who will be the seventh president of Iceland since the foundation of the republic in 1944, also ran for president eight years ago when she came in second behind Johannesson. She will be sworn in on Aug. 1.

Tomasdottir was the previous head of Iceland's Chamber of Commerce and in 2007 founded financial services company Audur Capital, aiming to incorporate social responsibility and women's perspectives into finance.

Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality for the last 14 years, according to the World Economic Forum.

Previous presidents have strived to stay above party politics and have mostly been perceived as apolitical once in office.

Iceland has been hit by numerous volcanic eruptions south of the capital Reykjavik recently, and thousands of people in the affected area have had to be evacuated indefinitely from their homes.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Louise Rasmussen; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Frances Kerry)