Icelanders vote on Saturday in a presidential election, with a 37-year-old mother with a newborn challenging the incumbent Olafur Ragnar Grimsson as he seeks a fifth straight term.
Thora Arnorsdottir, a respected journalist with no political affiliation who interrupted her campaign briefly in May to give birth to her third child, has run a campaign calling for change after Grimsson's 16 years in power.
She led in the polls initially, after Grimsson, 69, said he would not stand for re-election.
But after a petition gathered more than 30,000 signatures -- about a tenth of the population -- urging him to reconsider, he announced in March that he would stand after all, and has since then led in the public opinion.
Two surveys published in the final days of the campaign showed him coasting to an easy victory, with one giving him 57 percent voter support over Arnorsdottir's 30.8 percent.
"The gap between Olafur and Thora in this poll is very wide and you could say it is insurmountable," Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, political science professor at the University of Iceland, told daily Frettabladid.
Arnorsdottir, a striking blonde with piercing blue eyes, made a solid journalistic reputation reporting on Iceland's deep financial and economic crisis after all of its major banks collapsed in 2008.
She has lamented that the now rapidly recovering country has not done enough to learn from its mistakes, and that is what prompted her to be a candidate.
"I think we have all felt a strong need for a change in this country," she told the Reykjavik Grapevine.
Iceland has gone through deep soul-searching after the crisis, with many clamouring for a new generation of politicians to clean out the ranks.
Arnorsdottir is seen as an honest candidate and a fresh face after Iceland's crisis years
The candidate, who describes herself as a consensus builder, has acknowledged that the role of president is largely ceremonial, but said the position "has a great power of influence."
She is however up against tough competition from the silver-haired Grimsson, where her political inexperience may work against her.
Grimsson, a socialist, is hugely popular for his refusal, twice, to sign a bill to use taxpayer money to compensate Britain and the Netherlands over the 2008 collapse of online bank Icesave.
He has been an unusually political figure during his 16 years in power, earning him both praise and criticism.
Observers describe him as a shrewd and at times unscrupulous politician, known for his intelligence and ruthlessness.
He is a strong supporter of China, despite the government's criticism of its human rights record, and is strongly opposed to Iceland joining the European Union for fear the country would lose its sovereignty.
Iceland applied to join the bloc in 2009 after the economic crisis, and is currently in the midst of membership negotiations with Brussels.
A total of 235,784 Icelanders are eligible to vote on Saturday. Polling booths open at 0900 GMT and close at 2200 GMT, and the first results are expected about an hour later.© ANP/AFP