THE FUTURE´S SO WHITE

Published June 25, 2004

This year, though, the weather was sunny if not calm. The rays fell down as the wind blew the flags to full erection, symbolising a vibrant and stormy, but hopefully also a bright, future. And it seemed most people were in a mood to celebrate without excluding anyone living here.
As we all stood there on Ingólfshóll, celebrating the best and the worst of our culture from the Lady of the Mountain (who, by the way, did not have blonde hair this time) to the latest production of Hair, the republic turned 60. I sincerely hope that we can move away from a colour-based description of society and will not worry about whether the future is black, yellow or white, but concentrate on making it a bright one for us all.

A serious matter

The day of unity over, city officials were busy fishing Og Vodaphone popcorn bags from the pond and 15 year olds were recovering from their hangovers in an enviably short amount of time. We now had to start thinking again about finding a figurehead for this nation of ours, someone to symbolize the wind and the rain and the Lady of the Mountain and the hangovers and the endless productions of Hair, Grease and Fame and everything else that goes with being Icelandic. Except the figurehead is no longer just a figurehead.
As anyone living here will have noticed, the President, for the first time in the history of the republic, last month refused to sign a bill put forward by Parliament.
When the president refuses to sign a bill, the constitution states that it will then go to referendum. How exactly this is to be conducted it says nothing about, sparking yet another controversy. The constitution is little changed since it was brought here by a Danish king in 1874, except the word “king” has been erased and substituted with the word “president”. It also states that parliament wields the powers of the presidency except, it seems, when the president refuses to sign bills. The constitution even states that the president can choose or dismiss his ministers. Everyone has just always assumed this to mean that they should be democratically elected.
There is no doubt the constitution is in bad need of an overhaul. But I do not question the president’s right not to sign. I just wish he would have done so a lot earlier, on various different occasions. Bringing democracy to the people is something I am generally in favour of. Representative democracy is a 19th Century invention, when you had to traverse miles on horseback to get to the nearest election booth. The physical act of voting has become a lot easier in the age of information, and we should be allowed to do it more often.
Whether you are in favour of the media law or not, whatever decision will be reached will be easier to live with if you know the majority of the country has approved it. If the majority of the population had voted for damming (and damning) Kárahnjúkar, I would be more willing to accept it. If the majority of the population had voted for US military presence rather than protesters being gassed, I would have been more willing to accept it (they´re leaving anyway). If the majority of the population had voted for the immigrant laws, I would move somewhere else. But at least I´d know. Hence, the president, who has the power to put disputed laws to referendum, can play an important part in the democratic process.
But with great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes. From now on, we will not just be voting for a figurehead to go to cocktail parties on our behalf. We will be voting for a person that has the final power to refer decisions to us. It now actually matters who gets to be president. The tradition of treating all opponents to an incumbent with mockery must come to an end. This has become a serious matter.
It so happens that we now have three presidential candidates. Baldur Ágústsson is rightly concerned about domestic affairs, such as the increasing debts of the younger generation. Ástþór Magnússon wants world peace. I tend to agree. Ólafur Ragnar, however, due to his long experience, is the most presentable of the three. All these virtues are ones I want my president to have. But, unless there´s a last minute breakthrough in genetic research, we´ll have to choose one. We talked to all of them and, on page 11, you´ll find our interviews where the three contenders present themselves, in alphabetical order. Choose wisely. You never know when you might need them.

Grapevine will return on the 9th of July in expanded form. Please feel free to send us material.



Mag
Editorial
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Growing Divide?

by

It’s that time of year again, when everybody is talking about everybody else’s salary. “Did you see? Grímur Karl Sæmundsen [CEO of the Blue Lagoon] makes 6.2 million per month [645,000 USD per year],” someone will say. “Wow, Davíð Oddsson [Editor of daily newspaper Morgunblaðið and former Prime Minister and head of the Central Bank] makes 3,3 million per month [345,000 USD per year],” another will say. “Did you see how grossly underrepresented women are amongst the top earners?” It might sound strange to foreign readers, but Icelanders’ salaries come under scrutiny every July, when income tax data becomes publically

Mag
Editorial
<?php the_title(); ?>

Welcome To Our Sixth Annual Best Of Issue

by

As we were accenting the í’s and crossing the ð’s of our annual ‘Best of Reykjavík’ issue, a Facebook friend of Reykjavík Grapevine’s threw a bit of criticism our way that absolutely bears mention and further discussion. In response to one of the many “what’s the best X” in Reykjavík inquiries we posted last week, specifically one regarding sushi (“Have you been to Sushisamba? Is it the best sushi in Reykjavík? Why/why not?”), one of our FB friends wrote the following: “This is getting quite boring. I remember the days when RG was full of interesting articles on social issues

Mag
Editorial
<?php the_title(); ?>

Something To Write Home About

by

Every once in a while I come across a story in the local media that strikes me as being wonderfully Icelandic and worth sharing in this space. In December of 2012, for instance, there was the story of the twenty-four-year-old who escaped from Iceland’s maximum-security prison and evaded every single police officer in the country for an entire week. Long story short, the hunt came to an end on Christmas Eve when the fugitive knocked on a farmer’s door in Ásólfsstaðir and asked to be turned in to the authorities. Despite the fact that he had been booked for the

Mag
Editorial
<?php the_title(); ?>

Here For A Dirty Weekend?

by

You’ve probably heard Iceland referred to as a hot destination for so-called “dirty weekends.” Icelandair certainly did its part in spreading that message in the early noughties, luring visitors with slogans like “Fancy a dirty Weekend in Iceland?” “One Night Stand in Reykjavík” and “Miss Iceland Awaits.” The airline even featured games on the Scandinavian version of its website called “Halldor gets lucky in the Blue Lagoon” and “Hildur gets lucky in the Blue Lagoon,” in which characters chased their opposite sexes around the lagoon, collecting points by respectively stripping them of their bikini tops and swim trunks. Even if

Mag
Editorial
<?php the_title(); ?>

Cheers! Skál! Bottoms up!

by

So far, there really hasn’t been much to celebrate this year. We didn’t win the Eurovision Song Contest. Only a third of us are happy with the government. Thousands have protested in front of parliament. Our teachers went on strike. Our airport employees went on strike. Our pilots went on strike. And none of them were entirely successful. Yet, according to a report by Arion bank called ‘Er kominn tími til að taka fram kampavínið?’ (“Is It Time To Bring Out The Champagne?”), the bubbly stuff has made a comeback. Of course, as the report suggests, the rise in champagne

Mag
Editorial
<?php the_title(); ?>

Casting For A New Mayor

by

Four years ago, a comedian decided to run for mayor of Reykjavík. He created a not-so-political party, audaciously named The Best Party, and began campaigning on a bunch of empty promises to do things like bring a polar bear to the zoo and offer free towels at the swimming pool. Oh, and then he won. But of course you’ve heard this story. By now, it’s probably safe to say that  were it not for Toronto’s Rob Ford and his crack-fueled antics, Jón Gnarr would be the world’s most notorious mayor.But apparently being mayor is not all kicks and giggles, as

Show Me More!