Grapevine caught up with Marta Sigríður Pétursdóttir of Vakan; the non-profit organisation putting on a free concert encouraging young Icelanders to vote tomorrow. We asked her about what inspired the event, and why youth turnout is so important in yet another Icelandic election.
RG: Who and what inspired the idea for the event?
MSP: ‘The original idea came from Sigga Maija during last years’ snap election but was only realised when the paedophile scandal came to light last month. I had just started working with Hrönn Sveinsdóttir – one of our main organisers – at Bió Paradís and everyone in the office was like “what can we do?” We thought there isn’t much we can do to change the political parties, but something we can do is help increase the youth vote. Throwing a huge party seems like a good way to do that!’
RG: How was it funded?
MSP: ‘Hrönn went to the City [of Reykjavik] and asked if they could help because we are a pan-political initiative. We partnered up with governmental organisation Ég Kys (I Vote) who share the same vision and together we wanted to create a very positive buzz around voting and participating in democracy.’
RG: Do you think that the involvement of the music scene in politics makes voting more accessible to young people?
MSP: ‘Music is a unifying force and getting amazing artists who yield huge influence with the younger generation has to help. It’s really important to approach young people on their terms and we have Páll Óskar, Joey Christ amongst others performing, while the brilliant Aronmola will be presenting. There is something for everyone.’
RG: Why should young people vote?
MSP: ‘Young people are the ones who are inheriting the land and they are the future. According to research on the last parliamentary elections, even the 80+ demographic turned out above 70% while 18-29-year-olds remained under that threshold, so it’s important to remind young people that they should think about their best interests. There’s been so much turmoil in Iceland since the financial crash and people are tired with Icelandic politics, but at the same time you can’t give up. You need to make your voice heard and have a say in your future, regardless of your political affiliation.’
RG: What would constitute a success for organisers?
MSP: ‘Raising youth voter turnout by anything would be a success, but if we could raise it by 10%, that would be amazing.’
RG: How can people get involved with the Vakan concert?
MSP: ‘We are encouraging people to take a selfie outside polling stations and use #Vakan on social media. We want to celebrate democracy and the force of young people in action!’
Vakan is a free, apolitical 18+ concert on Election Day celebrating youth participation in politics. You can find more details about the event here, and check out their trailer below: