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 Toshiki Toma, running for the Left-Greens in the 31st 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?)
My candidacy, as well as the other immigrants on the lists, shows that we immigrants in Reykjavík are participating in “the society of Reykjavík”.
2. Why do you believe it’s important for immigrants to take part in municipal elections?
Because city politics (as well as that of the state) is the place to discuss how we should use our rights as residents of the municipalities, and also it’s the place to gain unobtained rights that we should obtain.
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, it is highly important for us immigrants in Reykjavík and Iceland that we find out the balance between two things; we need to accept how Icelanders are living/have been living until now on one hand, and on the other hand, we need to dedicate ourselves to bringing something new to their life. Both important, and to find a good balance is also the task of the city politics.