From Iceland — Country Roads: The Elections In Iceland's Sparsely Populated Countryside

Country Roads: The Elections In Iceland’s Sparsely Populated Countryside

Country Roads: The Elections In Iceland’s Sparsely Populated Countryside

Published May 18, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Fisherman of Ísafjörður, Timothée Lambrecq

While we’re a Reykjavík-focused magazine, we would be remiss to overlook the municipal elections happening in the countryside, too. These races are often comprised of parties specific to the town or village in question. But they can also be the scene of particular dramas that can only happen in communities of their small size.

Mostly, though, the distinguishing feature of municipal elections in the countryside is the presence of parties devoted solely to their respective communities. These parties often do better than even the national parties. There’s plenty going on outside The Bustling Metropolis of Reykjavík, so let’s have a look.

Ísafjörður: Í-List was the big winner in 2014, beating the Independence Party by just under 12% of the vote, but the Independence Party beat them the term before that, in 2010, and they’re not playing around this year, either. It’s pretty much a race between these two parties, although the Progressives also tend to win a respectable share in Ísafjörður elections.

Akureyri: Being the largest municipality in the countryside, local elections also tends to mean more variety. Akureyri does have its local party, L-List, but other national parties run here, too, even also-rans like Dögun. L-List pretty much dominated in 2010, but 2014 saw them overtaken by the Independence Party. However, there are seven parties running, including the new Centre Party, so we could see some surprises this year.

Egilsstaðir: Now you’re in Progressive Party country. Farmers are the traditional base for the Progressives, so them having won the most votes in 2014 is unsurprising. However, Egilsstaðir also has a bit of a People’s Front of Judea vs. the Judean People’s Front situation going on: the two parties that have come in second and third behind the Progressives, both in 2014 and 2010, have been People Interested In Regional Matters in Fljótsdalshérað and the Organisation of Socialistic People in Fljótsdalshérað. Both of these parties eclipse the Independence Party but split the vote so evenly that the Progressives are all but guaranteed victory.

Westman Islands: If you were to talk about “blue states” in Iceland, you’d be referring to a region with solid support for the Independence Party. If such terminology were used in Iceland, the Westman Islands would most definitely be a blue state. The Independence Party has crushed the local Island List and pretty much any other party foolish enough to run against them here. While the party is currently experiencing an internal shake-up, don’t expect any big upsets here, ever.

Hafnarfjörður: This town is an odd bird. Hafnarfjörður is a working-to-middle class family town and has almost always leaned to the left. They are one of the strongholds of the Social Democrats and have been pretty much from the party’s inception. That started to change in 2010, as the Social Democrats barely squeaked past the Independence Party, and then lost to the Independence Party in 2014. This will be the town to watch this month, as the Social Democrats may be able to snatch victory back again.

Read more election coverage here.

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