Published October 29, 2016
As we look back on this campaign season, there were moments of gold, moments of embarrassment, and moments that just made you want to break a chair against a wall. Here, we have assembled some of the very best and the very worst that Iceland’s parliamentary campaign season had to offer.
1. Left-Greens Are Too Sexy For Social Media
Campaign videos in Iceland, like in much of the rest of the world, are often boring affairs: pod-people smiles, vague platitudes, and completely staged “candid” footage. The Left-Greens took a decidedly different tack in inviting artist Ragnar Kjartansson to help with their campaign videos. In one such video, a naked woman wearing an oversized horse mask smears blood on a wall, screams, and pulls on her nipples before Ragnar appears, telling voters that the Left-Greens support the arts. The video was a huge success, albeit a short-lived one: Facebook blocked any attempt to share it, and YouTube pulled it for “nudity and sexual content”. Nonetheless, the video worked, in the sense that everyone was talking about it – even more so after it disappeared.
2. The Independence Party: “Fuck School, Get Paid”
(Photo: Screenshot from RÚV)
Every election, public broadcasting service RÚV do a thing called KrakkaRÚV (“Kid’s RÚV”), wherein candidates are asked to speak directly to Iceland’s children on a variety of subjects. Independence Party secretary Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir took the role of speaking on the subject of education, and what her party will do for kids where this subject is concerned. Amazingly, she said that the Independence Party was seeking to shorten the amount of time kids spend in school, which she considers important because, as she put it, “The world is filled with people and money and whatnot.” A pretty rich contention to make, considering that the state of public education in Iceland has been in dire need of improvement for some time now. Unsurprisingly, the video sparked outrage across social media, and was one of the worst missteps the party made this season.
3. The Progressive Party: Holy Crap What Were They Thinking?
(Photo: Screenshot from the Progressive Party’s Facebook)
The Progressives are known for being a bit clumsy and corny in their campaign videos, but in this case, they really crossed a line with a lot of people. In this animated video, the Progressives depict themselves as healthy, spry players on a football team. All well and good, except that they depict the Left-Greens, the Social Democrats and the Pirates as being in poor physical health, and outright disabled. The video drew considerable criticism from the actually disabled in Iceland and their friends, and is likely one of the ugliest campaign videos we’ve ever seen. Not a good look on you, Progressives.
4. The Pirate Party: Pls Vote 4 Us Kthxbye
The Pirates enjoy a considerable amount of support from young people, but it can be difficult to get young people to the polls. Vísir reports that everyone between the ages of 18 and 30 whose phone number isn’t on a no-call list received text messages from the Pirates, encouraging the recipient to vote for them. The Pirates were completely open about this, and apologised if anyone was bothered by the texts, but it nonetheless drew the ire of an Independence Party voter, who contended the practice is illegal. Whatever the legal ramifications of the strategy, it’s undeniably effective, and a damn sight better than an automated robocall or having campaign literature stuffed in your mailbox that you’re not going to read before you toss it in recycling.
5. The Debates: Please Make The Pain Stop
(Photo: Screenshot from RÚV)
There is quite possibly nothing more painful than watching debates between political candidates. Everyone is convinced they are in the right, everyone wants to have the floor, and no one wants to concede an inch. People talk over one another, some people speak in mistruths if not outright lies. Most frustrating of all is the emotional roller coaster of watching your favorite candidate doing well or doing poorly, and the endless speculation over who won or lost the debate. They are admittedly effective as soundbite factories, but they still never convey more information about individual platforms than simply visiting the websites of the respective parties would. Debates are an opportunity to experience a taste of the grandstanding and showboating that we can expect once these people are actually in parliament. It isn’t information; it’s entertainment. We could do without them.
The polls are still open at the time of this writing, and will not close for another four hours or so. No one is looking forward to the end of the campaign circus as much as we are. Keep your fingers crossed for us, rest of the world. We’ll need all the luck we can get.