Ten days from now Iceland has parliamentary elections. These come our way every four years. Usually we have five parties up for election. Sometimes six. Four are always certain to get the minimum 5% per-cent country wide backing required to get representation – less than that their votes count for nothing.
This time around things are different. Word got around that people are tired of the usual suspects and everyone and their uncle started rallying up signatures in order to fulfill the requirements for establishing a political party. Yesterday it became clear how many ended up managing this – twenty seven of which seventeen will be up in all voting sectors.
This high number of options has caused various problems. For one our traditional ballot does not have space for all of these parties. They have not shown us the end result of the new ballot design but I expect we will be handed some sort of scroll.
The national TV station is obliged to be impartial and must have a representative from all parties in the debates and political programs they show in the run up to the elections. By the time they are halfway through asking the representatives on these shows about their opinions on this, that or the other one has completely forgotten what the question was. And being politicians, there is no way one can use the answers to figure it out.
Political parties here are known by their name and a letter – the letter is used next to an empty box you tick in if you want to vote for this party. You also get a list of the party‘s candidates below the box, in case you want to strike some of them off. There are two things wrong with this set-up. For one, since you are listing up the names of all the candidates below the party‘s alphabetical letter – why not splurge and simply put the party‘s name on the ballot as well? Why this alphabet complication? It did not matter when you only had four parties but now with twenty something it is easy to trip up.
The other thing that is wrong is the option to strike someone off. Such an action is a complete waste of time since you need so many strike-offs to get the person booted from the list it is almost enough for the person in question to hand in a ballot with their name intact for them to remain on board.
With the rise of these numerous new political groups we not only almost used up our alphabet but also party names. All of good names for political parties are now in use. If some political movement comes along in the near future they will be hard pressed to find a respectable name for their organisation. One of the new twenty odd parties even had to name itself after the founder since no names remained and time was running out for the paperwork that needed to be handed in. This party is thus named: Sturla Jonsson the party.
It must be odd to be in politics. You spend your day listening to speeches or attending committee meetings. The two things I dislike the most – speeches and meetings. Unimaginable. Then you have everyone upset with you all the time and calling you names in the comment section of web media news. Not exactly the job description that raises one‘s pulse. I cannot for the life of me understand how we have enough people to fill one party. Much less twenty something.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out. At the moment the pirate party is doing the best of the new bunch. These guys are a sister party to the pirate parties in Europe that fight for internet freedom and throwing copyrights out the window. Funnily enough, for a party with internet literacy on their agenda they don‘t seem to know how to google. Every other day something new comes out regarding their candidates – negative stuff that reporters seem to find by a simple internet search / background check.
All parties have something good to promote. All have stuff one does not like. The same goes for the candidates. There is someone in every party one would like to see on the parliament. It is really a pity that we can‘t vote for individual people.
But you can in Eurovision so all is not lost.
Yrsa - Wednesday