As we’ve emphasised (as a lot of people don’t seem to know this), you don’t need to be a citizen to vote in municipal elections. By the same token, you don’t need to be a citizen to run, either. While being an immigrant does not necessarily mean you’re not a citizen, immigrants in Iceland of any legal status bring a fresh perspective to politics that locals simply don’t have.
In keeping with this, we contacted every single foreign-born candidate running for Reykjavík City Council this year and asked them the same three questions. Here’s Alexander Witold Bogdanski, running for the Independence Party in the 10th seat.
1. What are you most hoping to accomplish, should you get into Reykjavík City Council? (If you are at the 24th seat or below, what are you hoping your candidacy will do for your party?)
Many issues but priorities: I would fight for increasing the number of apartments (we aim to build at least 2,000 each year), more space for children at kindergartens (1,629 children are on the waiting lists now) more teachers at kindergartens and schools, more educational assistance for children of foreign origin, and a better communication system in the city.
2. Why do you believe it’s important for immigrants to take part in municipal elections?
It is important that most (if not all) immigrants with voting rights take part in municipal elections and therefore have influence for important issues for their residence.
More Icelanders should vote as well. I would be happy to see a higher participation ratio, not total 62% like 4 years ago in Reykjavík—such should be a democracy—different cultures, voices and people—together we make a choice and change!
3. What is, in your opinion, the greatest challenge that immigrants in Reykjavík face when it comes to settling in the city and trying to make a life for themselves?
The most difficult part of settling in Reykjavík is the insufficient number of apartments (322 built in the past year) which is also reflected in higher prices of buying or renting. Reykjavík needs a change.