As a member of the Independence Party and politician in the capital city Reykjavik, Oddsson has been very popular. As mayor, he established a reputation for dynamic and uncompromising leadership. Oddsson differs from many Icelanders in never having lived abroad and he is ill at ease in expressing himself in foreign languages. At home, he has been called a master politician for his pragmatic approach in dealing with coalition partners from the center as well as the left in earlier coalitions. The Independence Party is a conservative party that adheres to Iceland's continuing membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the retention of the existing U.S. base in Iceland. It also favors Iceland's participation in the European Economic Area (EEA), but has rejected full European Union (EU) membership to maintain autonomy over Icelandic maritime resources.
Under Oddsson's leadership, Iceland's government has enjoyed a reputation for fairness and honesty. A 2001 Harvard University study cited Iceland as a country where governmental corruption was almost nonexistent., and the international journalists' group, Reporters Without Borders, in 2002 gave Iceland its highest ranking for freedom of the press.