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 Guy Conan Stewart, running for the Left-Greens in the 27th 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?)
The Left-Green Movement’s leading candidates are people of noble character and great ability—I’ll back up people who combine decency with an understanding of the environmental needs of our age. On a personal level, I’m most interested in expanding the appeal of the Left-Greens to those who might not have considered it before.
2. Why do you believe it’s important for immigrants to take part in municipal elections?
Immigrant or not, citizenship is an ennobling thing, and its privileges have corresponding duties. A citizen ought to bear what burden they can, and leave behind a better city than they found.
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?
Just connecting. I’m very fortunate to have married into a warm and accepting family. Not everyone has someone: someone you can ask about a question on a form, or just someone to give you a pat on the back when you need it.