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 Nazanin Askari, running for the Women’s Movement in the 3rd 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?)
Having had social studies education and a strong political background, and more importantly being a citizen in Icelandic society, I believe I am more than ready to play my part in Reykjavík City Council today.
2. Why do you believe it’s important for immigrants to take part in municipal elections?
We are living in a diverse society and foreigners have a lot of concerns, including equal rights, everywhere inside society; not only on paper. An individual can make changes and I’d love to be that individual. We need to do this together; together we indeed have a louder voice to be heard.
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?
In my opinion, lack of respect which can come from a lack of knowledge or experience by natives makes it a lot more difficult than it should be for the immigrants to start their lives in Reykjavík. We need to improve our society towards an ideal one by making diversity the means of power and a reason for pride.