Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Changing the Constitution

Small warning. If you are offended by nudity, although not full frontal, do not scroll down.

On this coming Saturday Icelanders take to the election booths to vote for a new "people's parliament" that is to debate, discuss and propose changes to our constitution. This is something not done before, we have made various amendments to this document since its introduction in 1944 but never in this manner, i.e. giving the public an opportunity to take part in the process. Anyone able to come up with 30 supporters’ signatures was able to run and as a result we have 535 people to choose from. I would have preferred 5 to 10.

Don‘t get me wrong, I love democracy and I vote, but I am having a difficult time mustering up enthusiasm for this upcoming election. Our constitution is probably quite due for an overhaul, but there are too many candidates and on top of everything you need to select 25 to enter onto the ballot, not by name but by some random classification number each has been allotted. The way the votes fall is also complex, there is a slideshow explaining it available online but by the time you have gone through it you just have to hope they know what they are doing as it does not seem to make much sense. Because the system is so complicated one needs to do homework prior to going to the polls, write down the numbers of those you like and then copy them from the trial ballot onto the regular ballot once in the election booth. This probably does not sound so bad but when voters who can‘t vote on Saturday were allowed to pre-vote, the news reported that at least one of them took a full 30 minutes to complete the process meaning we might be in for long queues and waiting.

Here we moved the voting age down to 18 years of age some time ago, something that I just do not get. Hardly anyone at that age in Iceland has yet entered the grown up world, most live at home and have only held summer jobs, their sense of obligation and commitment not matured at all. In addition one would assume these young voters would be the ones easiest to influence with propaganda and as Iceland is growing population wise, these vintages are the most numerous and will be targeted for sure. So it just does not seem right. They are too young at 18. One story I heard was a guy whose daughter has just reached the voting age and when she opened the trial ballot sent to her for copying the 25 candidate numbers into she said “Wow. Cool. What is it? Yatzee?” Sort of says it all.

But aside from this snag in our voting regulations the more pressing issue for most of us here is which of these 500 plus candidates to vote for. There is a special web page where you can browse through them but you soon lose concentration because of the sheer number of people to evaluate. A special booklet with basically the same information was distributed into every home but at the moment my mail is not being delivered as the door containing the letterbox is no longer there and the house is temporarily surrounded by a 6 foot deep moat that the postal service is not too fond of. So my family and I have not received our copy of this wonderful brochure and cannot rely on it to fill our hearts with constitution gusto. Anyway, having spoken to a few who have braved through its pages, I am not sure we missed much.

The candidates, all being independent, try to draw attention to themselves in one way or another. One used a picture of his naked backside to ensure you remember him (see photo above) and to get the papers to interview him, while some are already public personas and get media coverage without such drastic measures. The funny thing is thought, of all the candidates I best remember the naked guy. I have no clue what he wants to do to our constitution, probably make nudity mandatory while mopping or something as ridiculous. The public radio is obliged to inform the nation about the candidates and must not show any favoritism, meaning each must be given the exact same amount of airtime, decided at 5 minutes, which multiplied by 535 meant just under 45 hours of programming, not including the introduction of each prior to their speech. No one has tuned in as far as I know.

On the official webpage for the elections you can search through the names using tidbits of information namely names, gender, occupations and postal codes. None of this really gives you as much as a hint about what these people stand for so what I decided to do, having no other plan in place was to make up a list of 25 people from varying occupations and hope that this would provide me with a pretty good set of people from all corners of our society. I began by searching for fishermen.

No joke, guess who came up? Naked ass guy.

It is my destiny to vote for him. Better get used to mopping in the nude.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. I think you should ask Leighton to arrange for naked guy to meet clown. It seems they have a lot in common. Perhaps they could meet at a Tea Party?

  2. As to the Tea Party, the clown would fit right in. They would never tolerate the naked guy. It wouldn't be because he was naked; it would be because he actually had an idea that wasn't dictated by Rush Limbaugh or the clowns on the Fox Republican channel.

    Yrsa, whenever an election is close the loser demands a recount. It is a long process with both sides fighting every step along the way. How long would a recount take with a candidate pool that size?

    I think your decision to select people from different occupations and areas of the country is brilliant. In the US, all candidates for election have made careers out of being politicians.

    The Brazilians are fortunate that their clown isn't pretending to be someone else. Our political clowns pretend to be the most loyal and patriotic group in the country even if they refuse to vote on things that would benefit the people.