From Iceland — Where Do They Want To Take Us? The Platforms Explained

Where Do They Want To Take Us? The Platforms Explained

Published October 10, 2016

Where Do They Want To Take Us? The Platforms Explained
Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Halli Civilek

Normally each election cycle, we ask each of the parties with a good chance of getting into Parliament what their platforms are. But since we’re focusing on the future, Ideal Iceland here, we were more curious to know what any of these parties plan to do to change things for the better, if anything.

Here, then, dear readers, are the parties who look likely to get at least a couple seats in Parliament, and where they would like to steer the country. This is what we asked them:

1. Describe your party platform in 10 words or less (NB: Only three parties managed to do this).
2. What ideas does your party have for changing Iceland for the better?
3. Of the other parties currently polling high enough to win seats in Parliament if elections were held today, who could you see yourselves partnering with in a coalition? Who could you see yourselves absolutely not partnering with in a coalition?

Without further ado, here’s how they responded:

Viðreisn (centre-right)

1. A liberal party which supports equality, economic freedom and Western cooperation.

2. We will lower interest rates by pegging the króna to another currency, such as the Euro, through so-called currency board. We want more European and international cooperation. The future of the EU accession talks should be decided in a national referendum. We will reform the national agricultural policy to give consumers more freedom of choice. We want to make it easier for foreigners to move to Iceland to work and study.

3. We will go by our agenda. Out of the parties currently in Parliament we are probably closest to Bright Future, but we rule out no partners if they agree to our reforms.

Social Democratic Alliance (centre-left)

1. We strive for equal opportunities and social justice for all.

2. Our priorities are to rebuild the health service to become the world’s best. This we can do by strengthening the public health service, providing more funds for hospitals and healthcare centres around the country, and better including psychiatric services into the basic health care system.

We want to help repair the housing market by increasing rental apartments by 5000 during the next electoral term, including 1000 new apartments for students. We want to support those who rent in the same way as those who own apartments. We will also assist people who lack sufficient funds for their down payments for their first apartments.

Samfylkingin (the Social-Democratic Alliance) will reform the fisheries system by auctioning a share of the fishing quotas to the highest bidders. That way our resource wealth can pay for better public services rather than end up in the pockets of relatively few individuals.

We will continue with the nationally owned constitutional process based on the constitutional council and referendum of 2012.

Samfylkingin will stop the drain of funding from the University system and sees investment in higher education as a basis for the knowledge economy necessary to create interesting job opportunities for young Icelanders.

Samfylkingin aims to reform the agricultural system through a review whereby the public will have a say, not just interest groups.

The Icelandic nation must decide on the future of accession to the EU, where Samfylkingin believes it will be to Iceland’s great benefit to join other European nations and have the option of a new, stable currency instead of the Icelandic króna. This is a vital element in building a stable new knowledge economy where innovative companies can thrive in Iceland.

We will separate investment bank services from the banks and reform the banking system according to the needs of the public.

3. Our first option will be to form a government with the current opposition parties, a similar coalition as the one we lead in the Reykjavík city council.

The Pirate Party (rejects the left-right spectrum)

1. Civil rights, internet freedoms, liberal, modern, direct and improved democracy.

2. First and foremost we aim to enact the new constitution approved by the people in the 2012 referendum. We consider its enactment a top priority and a prerequisite for many other important societal changes we feel are necessary to make Iceland a better place. One of the many great aspects of the new constitution is that it offers the people of Iceland the opportunity to have a greater say in the way Icelandic society is governed. The right to petition Parliament and the right to call for a referendum on laws being passed by Parliament are important steps towards a more direct democracy where the people truly are sovereign.

Another important aspect of the new constitution is its guarantee that Iceland’s resources belong to the people and should therefore never be sold off. Instead, the Icelandic people should reap the benefit of rent paid by private persons utilizing our resources in a sustainable and responsible way. Whilst the enactment of the new constitution might take some time, we aim to take steps towards fairer distribution of the revenue originating from the utilization of our resources right away. To that end, we aim to change the fisheries system so that all permitted quotas will be sold on an open market. We believe that this change will ensure a fairer distribution of benefits from one of our most valuable resources: the fish in the sea. A transparent fisheries system with easier access for newcomers will contribute to a fairer society for all.

The Pirate Party focuses heavily on resurrecting universal healthcare in Iceland. We aim to substantially increase spending on our healthcare system so that it will be freely and fully available to all persons inhabiting Iceland, irrespective of where they live or their economic status. Our health system is at the verge of collapse and we will not stand for jeopardizing people’s health and welfare due to budget concerns. We will also work towards expanding the health care provided by the state for its people. As matters stand, neither dentists nor psychologists are covered by our health insurance laws. The Pirates aim to change this and seek to incorporate both mental and dental healthcare into our universal health system. We want to work towards a society where everyone has full access to excellent healthcare, a goal which is fully realisable in a society as wealthy as ours.

The Pirate Party is highly concerned about the protection and strengthening of civil rights both in Iceland and abroad. One of our many policies in this area is to fully realize the potential of the parliamentary resolution of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI). The initiative would make Iceland a leading nation in the protection of free speech worldwide. IMMI includes strong protection for whistleblowers, freedom of information, freedom of expression, the right to privacy on the internet and data protection laws that would make Iceland a very appealing place for investigative journalists and activists who do important societal work globally. The Pirate Party has many more policies involving new ideas to make Iceland a better place. The reason behind this is that our method of forming policies is in itself a new idea, designed to greatly improve the democratic process in Iceland. The Pirates consists of thousands of engaged and enthusiastic members who all have a say on how Pirate Party policy is made. Our policies are made by our members who work together to create often very innovative and futuristic policies. Everyone can bring a policy proposal on a certain matter to the Pirate Party and put it to a vote in our electronic voting system. This access and openness creates a platform where everyone feels welcome to bring their ideas to the table and discuss them with others in order to, eventually, make a great new policy.

A good example of this is our general immigration policy where we reached out to the immigrant community in Iceland and asked them to take the lead in creating an immigration policy for the Pirates. The initiative was highly successful and we now have a great immigration policy, made for the most part by immigrants themselves. By accepting that policy in our voting system the Pirates have agreed, e.g., that borders are man-made constructs which, ideally, should not restrict people’s freedom of movement as they do today; that the Pirates want to work towards treating all requests to reside in Iceland equally, regardless of origin or other status and furthermore, that decisions and law-making concerning immigrants should not be made without consulting immigrants.

3. The Pirate Party has not officially ruled out collaboration with any party currently likely to win seats in Parliament. Nevertheless, we consider it unlikely that we will find common ground with the current government parties, as both parties have indicated strongly that they oppose our main policy goal, the enactment of the new constitution. Should they change their minds and offer concrete assurances to that end, we cannot rule out collaborating with them in some way or other. Ideally however, the Pirates will work with parties who agree with us on the importance of the new constitution and the resurrection of the healthcare system. That leaves all parties aside from the current coalition parties as likely partners, should we win the trust to form a coalition government after the upcoming election.

The Independence Party (right-wing)

1. Right-of-centre (liberal-conservative); emphasising fiscal responsibility, free enterprise, and civil liberties.

2. We will provide strong national leadership and a clear economic plan to a better, more secure future, with plenty of opportunity for creative and enterprising people. Our plan for getting Iceland On the Right Track calls for consolidating our fiscal and economic recovery. This will foster the longest growth period in Iceland’s history, ensuring that Iceland will remain one of the fastest growing developed economies in the world. Having restored the economy as well as the treasury, we will proceed in the next election term to rebuild and fortify infrastructure, national healthcare and social welfare. We will make sure that the recovery benefits every Icelander, regardless of gender or age, origin or residence, health or ability, means or education, faith or sexual orientation. We will lift the bulk of capital controls still in place and lower taxes on ordinary working families, building an economy that works for everyone. We want to make Iceland a more international and inviting place to work and live in, maintaining a strong link with Europe, while seeking free trade agreements and closer ties with our allies and trading partners in Britain and the United States of America. Over the last three and a half years, we have put Iceland back On the Right Track, but there is plenty left to. Let us finish the job.

3. The Independence Party will not commit to any preference for coalition parties prior to the election. Not only would that be premature and politically imprudent, but also an affront to the voters and their franchise.

Bright Future (centrist)

1. Optimistic, liberal, pro-EU, green party. We want better politics and radical reforms.

2. Björt framtíð (Bright Future) wants to change how we approach politics through the use of Servant Leadership. Through servant leadership we intend to insure that we take decisions based on what is best for the majority of society versus the elite. Björt framtíð is made up of people who in their daily lives and work have taken on servant leadership roles as teachers, policemen, children’s social service counselors and even one of Iceland‘s leading servant leadership scholars. People with their feet on the ground who understand the need for change in society. We want extensive reforms in the banking sector. We want tax reforms that serve the ordinary citizen; in particular we want to simplify the VAT system. We want increased government transparency. We want to ensure that everyone has equal access to society and is able to take full part in forming it. We also want to see an increase in direct democracy. One of our ideas there is to have regular National Assemblies to discuss matters of importance to the nation, in the same form as the National Assembly that was held in 2009 to discuss constitutional reforms.

3. We rule out partnering with the Icelandic National Front [a far-right anti-immigration party currently not polling high enough to win a seat in Parliament] and any other parties that promote hatred, fear or injustice.

The Left-Green Party (left-wing)

1. Left green politics, based on equality, feminism, pacifism and sustainability.

2. Our focus is on strengthening the healthcare and education systems, and improving various parts of the infrastructure—including those needed to properly accommodate the increased number of tourists visiting Iceland. To finance these reforms, we are not looking at increasing the tax burden of “ordinary” people—our focus is on the state securing a fair part of the profits made by big industry and those companies that use our collective natural resources.

3. The parties that have been in opposition this term have often been working well together. Continuing this partnership after the elections would be the obvious first choice. We could absolutely not work with any party that has racism on its agenda.

The Progressive Party (centre-right)

1. The Progressive Party is a liberal social party that constantly strives for the betterment of society.

2. Working to increase equality by lowering taxes on low-income earners, and raising taxes on those who make more. By increasing budget allocations to the healthcare system, ensuring pensioners receive payments that are in harmony with the minimum wage, and taxing so-called “super bonuses” [for bankers and management] especially. Supporting the welfare system as a whole.

3. The Progressive Party could work with every party that has a seat in Parliament. That cooperation depends on whether we can agree on the issues. The one party that we could not work with is the Icelandic National Front.

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