Iceland locals 2010

Local elections were held in Iceland today. I don’t have the habit of covering local elections much for many countries, but given the high-profile race in Reykjavík (much noted on the interwebs, of course) and the economic mess the country is in, these elections were an interesting way to gauge the evolution of public opinion since the 2009 elections.

Reykjavík has usually been favourable for the right, the Independence Party, holding it between 1929 and 1978, 1982 to 1994 and between 2006 and 2007. While the Independence Party won the 2006 elections and formed a governing coalition with the Progressive Party’s sole member, a new majority was formed in 2007 between the Progressives, Social Democrats, Left-Greens and one Independent; and this coalition collapsed in 2008 when the independent F-list formed a coalition with the Independence Party before finally the Independence and Progressive parties formed a new coalition later in 2008. The incumbent mayor is Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir of the Independence Party. The sensation of this election, of course, was the Best Party, a semi-serious party founded by popular comedian Jón Gnarr, who notably promised free towels at swimming polls, a Disneyland at the city’s airport, a new polar bear for the zoo and “sustainable transparency”. Its campaign video, posted on YouTube, quickly became famous. However, the party also carries a serious or real message, often hidden behind its rhetoric mocking Icelandic politics (notably by making empty pledges promising change and bright futures) and its joke platform. The Best Party’s general message, which is anti-politician (or anti-major parties) works very well in a country still suffering from a very tough recession where mainstream parties, politicians and incumbents are not held in very high regard. Here are the results:

Best Party 34.7% (+34.7%) winning 6 seats (+6)
Independence Party 33.6% (-9.3%) winning 5 seats (-2)
Social Democratic Alliance 19.1% (-8.3%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Left-Green Movement 7.1% (-6.4%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Progressive Party 2.7% (-3.6%) winning 0 seats (-1)

The Best Party is favoured to form the next municipal government, but it needs the external support of two other members, which could likely come from the SDA or the Left-Greens.

In Iceland’s second largest city, Kópavogur, located in the suburbs of Reykjavík, a twenty-year old Independence-Progressive coalition lost its majority and the local ‘Next Best Party’ won 13.8% of the vote, electing one councillor. In the northern city of Akureyri, an independent list won an overall majority sending Independence down 18% and the Alliance down 14% overall, giving the independent list 45% of the vote and 6 seats. In Hafnarfjörður, a small industrial suburb of Reykjavík, the Alliance lost its overall majority, winning 5 seats, down two, and 41% of the vote, narrowly ahead of the Independence, whose result was up 9% and won two additional seats to reach 5 seats, while the Left-Greens took the eleventh seat. The Independence Party maintained its majorities in Reykjanesbær, Garðabær, and Mosfellsbær; suburbs of Reykjavík, which I assume are wealthy.

I can’t find results nationwide, but while the Independence Party seems to have picked up some ground lost in its 2009 landslide defeat, the major results have been poor for incumbents in general and excellent for insurgent outfits such as the Best Party, with their message well adapted to the general anti-politician or anti-incumbent climate in the midst of the economic crisis.

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Posted on May 30, 2010, in Iceland, Regional and local elections. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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