After serving as his country's Minister of Finance, this People's Alliance Party-turned-Independent politician took office as fifth President of Iceland. He won his first election in 1996 and, in 2012, began his fifth presidential term.
After receiving his doctorate in political science from the University of Manchester, he began teaching at the University of Iceland.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he served the Reykjavik constituency in the Icelandic Althing (parliament).
Following the death of his first wife, Guorun Katrin Porbergsdottir, he married Israeli businesswoman Dorrit Moussaieff. His first marriage resulted in twins named Guorun and Svanhildur.
In the early 1980s, he was one of several prominent liberal thinkers to enter into a well-publicized debate with the conservative American economist Milton Friedman.