Progressives Could Get Seat On City Council - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Progressives Could Get Seat On City Council

Published May 30, 2014

Photos by
Natsha Nandabhiwat

In the wake of recent remarks made by the Progressive mayoral candidate that she would revoke a plot of land Reykjavík granted for the building of a mosque, the party now has enough support to possibly win a seat on city council.

According to a poll conducted from May 26 to 28 by Market and Media Research, Progressive Party support rose from 5.3% to 6.8% in the past week, finally giving them enough support to win a seat on city council. This is at the cost of the Independence Party, who lost a projected seat over the course of the last week.

Progressive Party support rose in the wake of remarks made by Progressive mayoral candidate Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir that she would revoke a decision made by Reykajvík city council in January 2013 to grant a plot of land for the building of a mosque to Reykjavík’s Muslim population.

“As long as we have a national church, we should not grant plots of land for buildings such as mosques or for Greek Orthodox churches1,” she said in part. “I lived in Saudi Arabia for about a year. My opinion is not based on prejudice, but on experience. I have, for example, just returned from one of the biggest mosques in the world, in Abu Dhabi. There are no churches there2. I respect the values of other countries, and think this is a given.”

These remarks have been met with opposition from every other mayoral candidate, as well as the Bishop of Iceland and Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, who is also a member of the Progressive Party.

However, Progressive Party chairperson and Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has chosen to avoid commenting on the matter directly, but accused political opponents of taking the worst interpretation of her remarks, and of trying to label the party as a whole as being xenophobic – an accusation which has appeared before, even from other Progressives.

At the same time, a statement from the Young Progressives expressing their lack of support for Sveinbjörg disappeared from their website shortly after Guðfinna Jóh. Guðmundsdóttir, a Progressive who is also running for Reykjavík city council, commented under the statement: “Cute”.

Where other parties polling are concerned, MMR’s results are the following:

The Social Democrats are the party with the largest level of support in the city, and rising. 32.7% of respondents said they would vote for this party if elections were held today, compared to 29.5% in the previous poll, conducted only one week previous. These results equate five seats on Reykjavík’s 15-seat city council.

Support for Bright Future is declining, from 24% to 22.2%, but their projected number of seats remains unchanged at four. The Independence Party saw a small blip upwards in support, from 21.2% to 21.6%, equating three city council seats.

The Pirate Party lost some support since the last poll, going from 8.2% to 7.5%, but they still have enough votes to win a seat on city council. The same could be said for the Left-Greens, who went from 9% to 6.8%. 

The two other parties running for city council – Dögun (at 2.1%) and the People’s Front of Iceland (at 0.3%) – do not have enough support to win a seat.

1There is no Greek Orthodox church in Iceland. There is, however, a Russian Orthodox church, which has also been trying to get a plot of land for building a house of worship.

2As DV has pointed out, there are at least six churches in Abu Dhabi.

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