With only a month to go before municipal elections and a plethora of problems to solve, political parties scramble to rescue Reykjavík from the clutches of the bad guys currently in charge. They claim that yes, they can make all our problems disappear. And what’s the best way to lure someone into the madness of electoral campaigns? Videos, of course.
Let’s just make it instantly clear that Icelandic electoral campaign videos are not there to share knowledge relevant to their political parties’ platforms. That’s simply not what this is all about. Instead, the more bashing, the better; the more nonsense, the better; the more slogans, the better.
These videos are not coherent, funny segments like the glorious 2016 campaign video made by Gerald Daugherty, where his wife begged voters to get the man out of her sight. However, precisely because nothing in them makes sense in the slightest, they are a gem of modern surrealist cinema that candidly capture the absurdity of Icelandic elections.
Who can trust the Vikings?
In Miðflokkurinn’s video, we half expected Centre Party’s Vigdís Hauksdóttir to burst into the frame riding a majestic black horse, but she ended up going for a much more quaint appearance. As what is presumably Celtic music plays loudly in the background, Vigdís stands fiercely against the backdrop of an unidentified shore somewhere in Reykjavík.
“We will build Sundabraut,” she says, referring to the controversial route that is supposed to cut the gulf between downtown Reykjavik and Mosfellsbær in half. “But we can’t always trust the Vikings to get us across places,” she adds, as she eagerly steps into a boat alongside two authentic Vikings, paddling away to sea.
Even if you understand Icelandic, the whole video arises a jumble of existential questions within 35 painfully cringeworthy seconds. Is this real? Is life real? What have Vikings got to do with anything? Does Vigdís do Crossfit to be able to work the paddles with such vigour? Perhaps psychiatrists will one day be able to answer our dilemmas, but for now, we’ll just be content with watching Vigdís try to awkwardly paddle back to shore dragged on a rope by a mighty Viking.
Outrageous seaty elections
As far as nonsense go, however, nothing beats the video released by candidate of Framsóknarflokkurinn (The Progressive Party) Ingvar Már Jónsson gets mad at a strategically placed bench. For about 30 seconds, Ingvar has been criticising the fact that a traffic-packed road has been modified in a way to hinder traffic instead of reducing it.
But what makes the hair on the back of his neck suddenly rise with indignation? What outrages him about this preposterous crossroad where cars can’t turn left or right unless the lights are green? A lonely bench that faces the road. “I have never seen anyone sit on this bench,” Ingvar exclaims dramatically. “This is just a waste of taxpayers money!”
You’ve got to hand it to him: it’s not like people are voluntarily flocking en masse to Grensársvegur to breathe in as much CO2 as they can, but what has this bench done to Ingvar? Was he perhaps bullied by a mean bench in elementary school? Or did a bench refuse to be his date? Put an end to bench-shaming, man. Leave them benches alone.
Too cool for school
As much as we love poking fun at The Centre and The Progressive Party, it’s always cool to see them try. What matters is to participate after all, and there is something admirable about their fearlessness and their willingness to be out there. Not like Vinstri Grænir (The Left Greens) or Samfylkingin (The Social Dems) who are just too cool to make fools of themselves on video.
Or Viðreisn, The Reform Party, whose online videos were nothing but hours and hours of filmed powerpoint lectures. Another Party who has never heard of making learning fun is The Pirate Party, who released a series of short profile interviews where their candidates go over their platforms with astonishing sobriety and coherent sentences. Boring. Who has ever heard of such a thing?
The cherry on top, however, has got to be the series of videos released by Independence Party candidate Eyþór Arnalds. Clad in pristine coats and with his salt and pepper hair carefully slicked back, Eyþór walks around Reykjavík pointing out how dirty its roads are.
Dramatic shots of snow-soaked streets and banana peels peeking out of rubbish bins with suspicious precision are carefully edited to induce fear and disgust. “Choose change,” Eyþór concludes. “Let’s clean up Reykjavík!” Mate, there are many things wrong with this city, but cleanliness isn’t one of them.
To make matters worse, for the entirety of the series nobody has any idea of what change really means to Eyþór. Perhaps a change of clothes, as he kindle demonstrates in his videos? We can only hope Eyþór did not have a shivering intern following him around in the snow with a suitcase full of alternative ties to go with every scenery. But hey, with that enviable tie selection to go through, who could blame him?
Read more on the minicipal elections here.