Iceland’s new president says he will do his best to respond directly to the people, with the opening of his new Facebook page.
The page in question, The President of Iceland, breaks away from the usual modus operandi of the office. Instead of just posting announcements on the official site of the presidency, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson intends to not only post announcements on the Facebook page – he will also try his best to engage in a direct discussion with the Icelandic people.
“Welcome to my page on this medium,” Guðni posts. “Here I intend to report on my projects in the Office of the President of Iceland. I ask you to follow what I do from day to day. You can expect my schedule to be pretty full, so I can’t promise to answer all the questions or comments that might appear. But I will do my best in that regard.”
The decision to use social media as a means of democratic engagement is in keeping with Guðni’s broader perspective on the office. As he told The Grapevine in a recent interview:
“I most look forward to being able to influence society. I have worked for decades now as an academic and an historian, and my aim has always been to connect with the public. There’s always a danger in academia that you end up losing touch with the public, or you only write for a very specialised field of academics. You get stuck in the ivory tower. I, however, have always felt that it is the duty of academics to influence the public vision of your field, and in my case it happens to be history, so I wanted to be able to say that my work changes the way people look at the past. Now, I want to change the way people look at the present and the future. It’s the same object, but a different time frame.”