From Iceland — Grapevine’s Super-Duper Professional Municipal Election Liveblog! FINAL NUMBERS

Grapevine’s Super-Duper Professional Municipal Election Liveblog! FINAL NUMBERS

Published May 28, 2010

15:28: The final results of Reykjavík city elections are in. Of a possible 15
seats on city council, Jón Gnarr’s Best Party has won six, the
Independence Party won five, the Social Democrats won three, and the
Leftist-Greens won one.
There was only a difference of 660 votes between the conservatives and
Best Party, but this gave the latter the edge to get an extra man in. At
the moment, the Best Party is currently in a meeting to decide what the
next step is going to be.
Former mayor Hanna Birna Kristjándóttir was more than happy to point out
the victories her party made in well-established conservative
strongholds throughout the country, although the party took its shares
of damages as well, such as in Reykjavík. The Social Democrats also got
hit pretty hard, nationally speaking. The Leftist-Greens more or less
held onto their own, but lost a seat in the capital. The Progressives
fared worst of all in the capital area, only managing to get one of
theirs in town council in Kópavogur and Álftanes.
Gnarr isn’t yet giving away who he intends to form a majority coalition
with, but has said he’s willing to work with everybody. Social Democrat
Dagur B. Eggertsson said that it would be a long shot working with the
Independence Party, and Hanna Birna said that while her party could
conceivably form a coalition with the Social Dems to form a majority,
that wouldn’t necessarily be in harmony with the will of the voters.
Talks on forming a majority, or an announcement of what form that
majority will take, are still pending. (PN)
02:16: Well, looks like the final numbers are still going to be a some hours away, but there’s not likely to be a lot of major changes between now and the final results. And even then, there’s a new majority that needs to be formed, which could take days. The Social Dems in Hafnarfjörður are already talking to the Leftist-Greens there, but the courting process in Reykjavík takes a bit longer.
It’s been fun covering this election cycle. But fun time’s over pretty soon, and then the real work begins. I can only hope there’ll be some follow-through to the talk. Jón Gnarr, as I’ve said, is sincere in his intentions and motives, even if he might not know just how he wants things to materialize. I’d like to be dancing on my living room table about this, but like a lot of people in Iceland, the past two years have really worn down my trust in the administration of power in this country. But you can’t help but be optimistic. Night all. (PN)
01:51: At last, statements from the party chairmen of parliament’s majority coalition.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir said that she sees the end to the “four party” system in Iceland. She says these results are a call for significant change in party practices. Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told RÚV that he can still see the Leftist-Greens picking up support outside of Reykjavík.
Frankly, I’d be inclined to agree that voter dissatisfaction tends to be spread unevenly across all four parties, but none of them are particularly well trusted. They do need to do some serious re-working, but as Einar Skúlason – the Progressive Party’s only real chance of hanging on to a seat in city hall – told us, trust isn’t something that’s gained back in a few months, or maybe even in a few years. He knows that better than a lot of people right now, but every party needs to take that to heart. (PN)
01:32: New numbers are in from Reykjavík.
43,408 ballots of about 55,000 have been counted. The Best Party still has six seats, with 16,054 votes, and the Independence Party still has five, with 11,990, but the Social Democrats took a hit, and now have three seats and 8,054 votes. The Leftist-Greens have one seat, and 2,952 votes. Still no other parties in, and there likely won’t be. The Liberal Party can be declared legally dead in Reykjavík, and the Progressives have been shown the door.
Still seeing a Best Party/Social Dem thing happen here. It’s been brought up though that Jón Gnarr has been supportive of conservative politicians in the past, so really anything can happen I guess.
In any event, Leftist-Green MP Árni Þór Sigurðsson had some interesting things to say about these elections, writing on his blog:
“I can make no mistake that political parties need to examine themselves, and review their works and their platforms. I’ve noticed that some politicians have taken these results so far to be a victory or even an amazing performance. I think it would be a better idea for party representatives in certain municipalities and in the countryside to show humility in the face of the judgement of the people, and simply admit that these results are a call to a change in emphasis and performance.” (PN)
01:11: So I was just clicking through the final results of towns and villages around Iceland, to see if there were any consistent trends. The Independence Party lost majorities in the northeast of the country, as well as in Akranes, Akureyri and Kópavogur, which has been pretty solidly conservative, but they had an Independence Party mayor step down during a corruption investigation. They’ve held on to strongholds in Garðabær, Reykjanesbæ and the Westman Islands, as expected, but apart from managing to put a solid dent in Hafnarfjörður and taking Árbær, that’s really about it. It’s not exactly a strong showing for the conservatives on a local level. Even party chairman Bjarni Benediktson told RÚV that the party had Reykjavík mayor Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir to thank. It’s uncanny that he’d point this out, seeing as how in the last polls before these elections, most city residents were saying that they wanted her to continue as mayor, but that they did not want the Independence Party to be in the majority.
In other words, I think the local elections show a major drop in trust among Icelanders towards the conservatives. The SIC report, the Kaupthing arrests, former ministers possibly facing charges – it’s really not their season. And I think that’ll be reflected in the final numbers here in Reykjavík as well. (PN)
00:52: Ah, these elections are pretty interesting to watch. Interesting times. You remember that old Chinese proverb about living in interesting times and shit? I don’t know. If these times weren’t so interesting, we’re sure our paper would be less fun to read. There would just be a lot of articles aboud skateboarding and garage rock. Anyway.
I went an interviewed my American mail-order bride, Grapevine photographer Julia Staples (yay, nepotism!), who tonight voted in Iceland for the first time. She is an immigrant, and she likes to keep up. Other immigrants that voted for the first time should be in touch with us so we can get their thoughts too.
I just watched Jón Gnarr’s victory speech at Besti Flokkurinn’s headquarters. Or what RÚV chose to broadcast of it, which was weird, actually. This has been evident through the night, but never as annoying as now. They’re cutting through mid-speeches – speeches that are meaningful and important, missives to party followers or hangers-on about the parties’ interpretation of the night.
Yes. They are cutting them off to tell us that the numbers in Akureyri are unchanged.
And then the Sputnik-party, the fromouttanowhere party won – and their main dude throws a victory speech, and they cut him off in mid-speech. I don’t know. It seems weird and… well, weird.
Yes. They are cut them off to tell us that the numbers in Akureyri were unchanged.
Anyway. Before I introduce you to Julia, I would like to include a mini interview with my friend, singer Bóas Hallgrímsson, who just witnessed an interesting thing on TV.
What did you see on TV that was funny?
Ehrm. I don’t understand the question.
No, I mean when Bogi Ágústsson said something about apples. You were telling me about it, it sounded really interesting and pertinent.
He just said that he didn’t want any more of that apple-shit.
They just… cut a speech in half, actually, and he didn’t know the camera was on him and that he didn’t “want any more of that apple-shit!” So that was interesting.
ANYWAY. Here is a transcript of our conversation with Julia Staples:
Who are you?
Julia Staples, Grapevine photographer and mail-order wife of Haukur S. Magnússon (Grapevine’s editor). I come from Rhode Island USA, and I was born in 1979. I have been living in Iceland sporadically since 2003, permanently since 2007.

How do you like Iceland?

I really enjoy living here. This uhm. Life is easier here. It’s easier to find people, the air is cleaner. At first, it was hard to find my ground, but having you by my side has made it a lot easier and now that I sorta know my way around… yeah, I think living here is a pretty ideal lifestyle, aside from the darkness in wintertime.

Have you been following the discourse leading up to the municipal elections?

Absolutely. I have mostly just been following the introduction of Besti Flokkurinn and how they are meshing with everyone, I read what’s written in the Grapevine and on their website, and I talk to [Grapevine editor and article-writer] Haukur S. Magnússon about it a lot [yes. I am interviewing my wife. Woo!].
What are your feelings on the elections?
Uhm. It’s a really exciting time, and a chance for change. It’s interesting to see a party that started out as joke gain mass popularity and how they are handling that. Although I am slightly unsure about them, because there is not a lot of history or experience that can be used to talk about them or use as an example while in discourse about them. Still, most of the people I associate with seem to feel like they couldn’t do any worse than anyone else – and hopefully will do better.
I understand this was your first time voting in Icelandic elections. Could you tell us about that experience?

I didn’t think I was allowed to vote, but one hour before the polls closed I found out from a friend that I could. I felt… it gave me a sense of belonging, and it made me realise that I count more than I did before. I also felt it was important to talk to foreigners about politics, because I have a man in my life that pays much attention to politics and talks to me about it, and I almost felt like I was channeling information to some of the foreigner community that they otherwise would not have gotten.
And I feel that I am rather informed this time around, and I am really excited to get the opportunity to vote and make a difference in a city that’s starting to feel like it is my own.
What do you feel about the rule that makes Scandinavians eligible for voting in Iceland after three years of staying here, but everyone else has to wait for five years?
Yeah, that makes absolutely no sense. I don’t understand it at all.
Who did you vote for? Keep in mind that Icelanders don’t like to admit who they voted for. They usually reply “I voted for the right party”.
The Best Party. I am happy to admit it. Is someone coming to my door to try and kill me now?
Any particular reason?
I probably already said it, but I listened to what people around me were talking about – smart people whose opinions and judgement I trust – and I agreed with their reasons for voting Besti flokkurinn. Mostly I like the idea of a cultural revolution, as Jón Gnarr spoke about in the Grapevine. Changing the system from the ground up, and hiring professionals to do so. And I want to say: politics all over the world are very corrupt, and I hope this party can follow through with some of the talk they’re talking. That would be a gleam of hope.
Any closing statements?
Actually, yes. I think Besti flokkurinn is the most amazing thing that’s happened in Icelandic politics, from what I can tell.

Speaking of first numbers – if they bear out, and the Best Party ends up finishing as the largest party in the city, we’re going to have a Best Party/Social Democrat coalition majority in city council. I just don’t see them forming a coalition with the conservatives, and the Leftist-Greens won’t be able to give them a comfortable enough majority. And no other parties are getting in. So, that pretty much leaves the Social Dems. In all honesty I’m not exactly recoiling in horror at the idea. But as I said, first numbers can change.
Oh, and RÚV’s cool Flash map seems to be up again. (PN)
23:47: OK, just a couple of things to point out here.
First of all, the first figures, you may have noticed, are in nice round thousands. This was not some incredible coincidence, but rather because the “first numbers” counting is extremely roughly shod. It’s basically guesstimation mixed with rounding out numbers mixed with reading goat entrails. Having said that, historically speaking, the first numbers don’t usually deviate too drastically from the final outcome, but you may have noticed that this year is a bit different. So maybe there’ll be surprises.
Also, RÚV appears to be having some serious technical difficulties right now. Their website doesn’t even load half the time, and their extra special super Elections 2010 page looks like this:

This is the state broadcasting system we’re talking about here. When their page does load, they’re reporting that there’ve been a lot of cross-throughs on ballots, and that newer figures probably won’t be up until about one in the morning. Yay!
You know what I think this calls for? More Touhou. You’re welcome. (PN)
23:21: OK. So first numbers are in and they are… interesting. First off, let me say to the people of my hometown Ísafjörður: You continue to surprise and amaze me by your thick-headedness. That’s why I love you, but that’s also why the town has been committing a sort of long and drawn out Hara Kiri ritual for the past few decades. OMG, WTF, LOL, etc.
Not that any of the folks running excited me, apart from my uncle Gísli, who I would trust to run pretty much everything. If I had been a voter in Ísafjörður, I probably would have voted for the Progressive Party (!!????!!!!??????? ) (seriously, (!!????!!!!???????) and their chair Albertína Elíasdóttir, who seem to be the only party running that’s somewhat making attempts to get their shit together.
In fact, I thought their campaign in Reykjavík was pretty good too. And that guy, Einar, he’s a nice guy. He used to work with Alþjóðahús, he’s the only person who turned in Grapevine’s questions on time, and he totally made sense in our interview.
ANYWAY. Hanna Birna is trying to claim that the Reykjavík results are a huge defensive victory for the Independents, pointing out that they only scored like 22% in the national elections last year. And you know what? She’s right.
Don’t know what to think about that.
Hear The Best Party’s celebrations are fun now, and that they have free beer. Not going to go there, or to any other celebration/mourning party. I do not like going to party parties. I am not a party person. But I like to party. Knaahmean? (HSM)
21:51: Alright, so the different candidates are speaking to the news about what the first numbers mean.
Mayor and Independence Party candidate Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir has said that they’ve received more support than the opinion polls predicted. Social Democrat Dagur Eggertsson said that the Best Party’s support shows that the people want change in politics, regardless of their party affiliation.
YAWN. Thank God former Sugarcube, current Ghostigital guy and #2 on the Best Party’s list Einar Örn Benediktsson was on hand. He told reporters he hopes for a clean majority, because then the next four years will be a lot of fun. He said most of the candidates in his party have kids and none of them are idiots. And they intend to do away with corruption in the city.
I’m hoping that fighting corruption to Einar Örn will mean a lot of shouting and blowing trumpets. Sure, that might not change anything, really, but hey – couldn’t hurt, right? (PN)
22:28: Right out of the gate, The Best Party is leading strong. RÚV reports that of the 21,017 ballots that have been counted so far, The Best Party has gotten 8,000 of them. Holy damn. But wait – the Independence Party are right on their heels, with 7,000 votes. The Progressives are so far with a comically paltry 13 votes. Thirteen. That’s right.
Vísir’s interprettation is that this means the Best Party will have six of 15 seats, the Independence Party will get five seats and the Social Democrats will get four seats.
Now before you go dancing in the streets, historian and political analyst Stefán Pálsson made a good point earlier on. He has predicted that the Best Party would start strong, but then slowly sink. This is because, Stefán says, the Leftist-Greens and the Social Democrats are going to have a lot of strike-throughs on their ballots – people crossing out the names of party candidates they don’t want to see – and those ballots are always counted last.
Pretty exciting start either way! (PN)
22:15: Just got back from voting with my lovely immigrant woman. It was heaps of fun, and I even managed to record a shitty little video inside the voting booth using my ChiPhone. I have no idea why I recorded that thing, but some of those fancy liveblogs out there feature video, so I thought we should do that too.
ANYWAY. It was a fine little session at the Kjarvalsstaðir voting centre, which serves the precinct of Reykjavík North. There were not a lot of folks present when we got there, but we had a little chat with the polling people and they were in good stuð. They told us that in my division of Reykjavík North (“the fourth division”), there were approx. 1.100 voters, that the turnout today was around 70%, and that around 20 English-speaking (i.e. “new Icelander”) voters had shown up. That amounts to around 1-2% of the entire district. Fancy that, Left-Greens!
Here is a fancy video I recorded in the voting booth. In a second, I will interview my girl Julia Staples about her experiences as a first-time voter in Iceland, but I think Paul is getting ready to tell y’all about the first numbers.

21:55: Alright, now let’s get this party started. Vísir is reporting this year’s turnout as 55,366 voters, or 64.54% of eligible voters. In 2006, it was 54,863 voters, which was 64.8% of eligible voters at that time. So pretty much the same deal. That’s kind of a let-down, considering all the fuss every talking head in the city has been making about how the average Reykjavíkingur has had it up to HERE with the same old politics, and they will NOT take this lying down. Well, I guess we’ll know soon enough if how the city voted changed in the last four years, even if the numbers didn’t. (PN)
21:43: So the different candidates have appeared on television station Stöð 2, were all asked the same questions, and all gave pretty much the same answers. Yes, even Jón Gnarr. You know, “we want to continue doing the good work that we’ve been doing, create jobs” and so forth. Who’s going to say otherwise? It’s like these people get their answers by writing phrases on slips of paper, shaking them up inside a brown paper bag, and then drawing them in any particular order. And they pass the bag around. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t go so far as to say it doesn’t matter who you vote for. It certainly does. But you wouldn’t be able to tell a difference in platform by the way they talk to the media, that’s for sure. (PN)
21:31: So the polls close in half an hour, and there’ve been no breathless updates from the news. Apart from RÚV, who are reporting on results in every tiny little village across the countryside. Why aren’t I reporting those results? Because we’re the Reykjavík Grapevine, that’s why. If you lived in one of these places you’d know the results before we would anyway. (PN)
21:15: I do believe I am going out to vote! Wonder who I’ll vote for. (HSM)
20:32: Vísir is reporting a turn-out of nearly 54,000 out of a possible 86,000 eligible voters casting ballots in Reykjavík as of eight this evening. That’s not too shabby, I gotta say. And now that Iceland has finished performing in Eurovision, maybe the other 32,000 voters will come running down to the polls within the next 90 minutes to cast their votes. So if you see someone running downtown, whatever you do, don’t clothesline them as you normally would. Learned that one the hard way. (PN)
20:08: Oh, one more thing – this year, blank ballots are being counted separately from “ruined” ballots (i.e., ballots incorrectly marked, drawn on, sneezed into, etc.). This is significant, because what they used to do is count blank ballots as ruined ones, when a blank ballot is pretty much a vote of no confidence from the voters themselves. So maybe this year we’ll get to see how many people chose “none of the above” with greater accuracy. (PN)
19:49: Memory lane time – I’ll never forget the municipal elections of 2006. Back then, it looked like city politics was finally going to stabilize into a nice, left-of-center position. Well, we all know how that went. Looks like we’re headed for … what, no wings, eh? No left or right. Maybe that’s a good thing. I only pray that the politics of personality instead of parties hasn’t finally taken root in Iceland.
Anyway, no real news to report, so watch this video of someone playing Touhou Imperishable Night – Extra Stage. Oh yeah! (PN)
19:16: No election night would be complete without taking advantage of a lull in the ballot counting to call up some academic type and get them to state the glaringly obvious. However, I don’t actually know any academic types, but people at Vísir do. They contacted professor of political science Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson who said that this year’s municipal election was “historic”, and that the “big four” parties cannot continue doing what they’ve always been doing. He added that the sky is blue, grass is green and fire hot burn bad bad. (PN)
18:00: So I got back from voting about two hours ago, and I was frankly surprised by how low the turnout was. My voting place is city hall itself, because I’m a bourgeois hipster and live downtown, and at about 15:00 this afternoon, only about 200 people had voted from my neighborhood. On the other hand, it’s a pretty nice day out, so maybe people are thinking they’ll get their voting down after they’ve enjoyed the sunshine.
On the other-other hand, this is apparently par for the course, as Vísir is reporting that turnout is so far only 2% less than what it was in 2006, and is increasing gradually. As of 16:39, about 32,000 Reykjavík residents had voted. That’s about a third of the city, and there are 86,000 eligible voters in the city.
Anyway, if you haven’t already, get voting. Don’t wait until the last minute. Do it now!
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this handy little bar graph that Palli – pretty much the only person I know who can use Google Spreadsheet – put together for us (click the thumbnail for full-size):

What does it mean? It means the “big four” parties are using Facebook pretty much the same way they always have, while The Best Party is using the hell out of it. They’re making the same mistake Clinton made against Obama, in other words – disregarding social networking sites as second-tier means of communication. We’ll see if this is reflected in the final results. (PN)

We like to pretend we’re smart and sophistimacated folks ‘round here at the Grapevine. We sometimes don top hats and monocles, sip on fancy wines we can’t afford and pretend we know what we’re talking about a lot. It’s fun.  This weekend, we will pretend we know about politics right here on this website. Yeah, you guessed it (maybe the headline gave it away): we will be liveblogging tomorrow’s municipal elections!  
We plan on starting sometime on Saturday afternoon, and going on until we can’t be bothered anymore.  
You can prepare for all the hot, live-blog action by reading some of the pre-election coverage we made.  
Click here to read our QnAs with THE BIG FOUR (Iceland’s mainstay political parties), click here to read our massive interview with Jón Gnarr, of the juggernaut former-joke campaign The Best Party, and click here to read all our news on the subject.  
Oh, and click here to read Egill Helgason’s pre-election column ‘Terrified Politicians’.  
See y’all soon!

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