Published September 26, 2011
Dear reader, welcome to Reykjavík, the only capital in the world that prides itself of a mayor/comedian. Jón Gnarr’s (a)political platform, the so-called Best Party, that has an ideology best described by its chairman as “anarcho-surrealism,” won a majority in the 2010 municipal elections. However, recent polls reveal that 62% of Icelanders are not satisfied with Jón Gnarr’s administration of Reykjavík. Jón reacted to the news by claiming that the polls rather suggest that 38% of Icelanders are happy with his work.
Jón Gnarr fails to realise that Reykjavík residents did not vote for him because they adhere to his ideas or lack thereof, but because they wanted to express their disdain and distrust for the traditional ruling class in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. People who felt left out by the establishment expected the Best Party to bring fresh ideas into Icelandic politics. Unfortunately for them, Jón Gnarr remains a comedian and has yet to become a mayor. A quick glance at the trailer of ‘Gnarr,’ a documentary retracing his municipal campaign, shows his lack of interest in mundane administration duties. By boasting his ignorance about political matters and making whimsical and cynical comments about issues that actually matter to the residents of Reykjavík, as illustrated in the Best Party’s platform, Jón Gnarr shows his utter lack of respect for the people he is supposed to represent.
As a mayor, Jón Gnarr has often let his personal opinion get in the way of his official duties, as illustrated by his recent refusal to meet the admiral of the German navy, which had three ships docked in Reykjavík harbour earlier this year, disregarding protocol duties incumbent to his position. Jón Gnarr gives off the impression that he is more interested in issues lying way beyond city limits, for example campaigning in favour of the liberation of political dissidents in China, stirring controversy around NATO’s military transit over Iceland and looking for Moomin trolls in Finland.
As a public figure, Jón Gnarr should refrain from expressing his personal and facetious opinions, especially when they fly in the face of values shared by the civilised world (including Iceland). For example, in a recent interview, the mayor of Reykjavík expressed his doubts over the usefulness of compulsory education, suggesting that parents should be able to decide whether or not they want their children to attend school. Jón Gnarr often presents himself as a good example of a person whose lack of formal education hasn’t been an obstacle to a successful career, having made the conscious decision to abandon school at an early age and ultimately becoming the mayor of the capital of Iceland. Jón Gnarr conveniently ignores the fact that day-to-day city management tasks are in the hands of the city council, which consists of highly educated and skilled individuals who manage to run the city, despite of the mayor’s lack of education rather than thanks to it.
In the meantime, that city council led by The Best Party has been implementing drastic budget cuts, raising taxes and imposing austerity measures with the same zealous fervour that would have been displayed by any of the established political parties so despised by Jón Gnarr’s one-man party. So much for “anarcho-surrealism.” As a responsible citizen, Jón Gnarr shouldn’t be campaigning to move his party any further towards parliamentary elections—an intent recently voiced by Best Party officials—but rather to step down in the best interest of the people he claims to represent.
It’s ironic that the same people who have in recent years been demanding that their politicians be examples of responsibility would rather take part in a political joke taken too far and thus fail to vote responsibly.
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