With municipal elections around the corner, it’s high time for the Grapevine to start its coverage. For those not in the know, Reykjavík citizens get a chance to pick their city council members by voting for one of the registered parties on May 31. The 15 council seats are split between the parties based on the percentage of the total vote they receive.
Prior to the election, each party presents an ordered list of their candidates, with the person in the number one spot being referred to as the list leader. So for example, if a party secures three seats in the election, the first three members of its list become council members. Two or three parties then form a coalition, with the leader of the majority one becoming mayor. But enough of that, let’s get down to business!
Mayor Jón Gnarr has shaken up the city’s political landscape twice—first when his party of anarchists and artists, known as The Best Party, won the majority in the 2010 city council elections, and again when he announced he would not run for a second term, thereby dissolving the party. Its members have since been absorbed into the Bright Future Party, and Jón Gnarr’s assistant, S. Björn Blöndal, leads the party’s list of candidates.
While Bright Future is projected to lose two of its six seats, polls favour the left-wing Social Democratic Alliance, with the latest numbers suggesting they’ll get five seats, or two more than they currently hold. The Social Dems’ leader, Dagur B. Eggertsson, is also projected to become Reykjavík’s next mayor. This would be the second time Dagur sits in the mayoral chair, having assumed that role for three months in 2007/2008. With numbers as they stand, the Social Democratic Alliance and Bright Future are likely to hold the most seats without serious challenge.
Meanwhile, the conservative Independence Party has been scoring progressively worse in polls. Political veteran and current mayor of Ísafjörður, Halldór Halldórsson, leads his party, which is projected to secure four seats in the election, down from the five it currently holds. The centrist Progressive Party—the other half of the national government’s coalition with the Independence Party—is faring no better and looking at a steep uphill battle to regain the single city council seat the party lost in 2010.
Conversely, the newcomers in the Pirate Party are riding high on their national party’s parliamentary successes last year. The Pirates are running on a freedom of information platform and polls suggest that their leader, Halldór Auðar Svansson, is assured a seat, and that the party is very likely to secure a second one.
The Left-Green Movement is holding on to their one seat by the skin of their teeth, with some close calls during internal elections as well: Sóley Tómasdóttir beat out Líf Magneudóttir for the top seat on their list by just one vote in the party’s closed primary elections. Sóley is the only female leading any of the municipal parties. Her former party and fellow council member Þorleifur Gunnlaugsson has risen to the top of the newly-formed Dawn Party’s list, although this social justice-oriented party is trailing behind in the polls and has some work to do if it wants to get a council member elected.
The poll was commissioned by daily paper Morgunblaðið and carried out by The University of Iceland’s Social Science Research Institute from March 17 to 23. Of those polled, 60%, or 1,154 people, responded, 111 were not sure, 57 planned to cast a blank vote, 24 were going to abstain from voting and 79 refused to answer.
Correction: Since printing our issue, the leader of the Progressive Party Óskar Bergsson has taken responsibility for poor polling results and resigned from his post.