As we move towards the warmth of June, we also ponder what has been on Icelanders’ minds of late, besides the never-ending rain and their dreams of sunny beaches. Here’s a round-up of fresh debates, hot topics and crazy madness from these past few days.
A hot topic on everyone’s lips this past few weeks was the municipal elections. The outcomes were various: authorities registered a worrisome low turnout all over the country, as well as a definite split between political orientations based on urban planning. The Independence Party is now the strongest in Reykjavík with eight representatives, but this election was an even greater victory for smaller, newer parties like the Pirates, whose member of city council doubled since 2014. The Reform Party and the Centre Party, who had no representatives in the last elections, also did well. It’s still unclear who will manage to form a majority, but the expectations are high, and the stakes even higher—the future City Council will have to tackle pressing issues such as the stretched city infrastructure, the out of control rental market, and the lack of affordable housing. Find out more about Reykjavik elections here.
As far as opinions go, Icelanders sometimes have controversial ones. A recent online petition to withdraw from the next Eurovision Song Contest—to be held in Israel in 2019–attracted wide international attention. The petition was signed by by more than 25,000 people all over the country to protest against “Israel’s violence against their neighbours,” following the latest events in Jerusalem. People from all over the world have either applauded the decision or harshly criticised it as anti-semitic. The manager of Iceland’s national TV station, Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, played it cool: “At this stage everything is taken into account,” he said. “We’ll notify the public in the autumn, like we always do.”
Another controversial issue involved controversial Icelandic research centre deCODE Genetics. Their decision to contact women who are likely to be affected by a genetic mutation to inform them they might be at risk of developing breast cancer met with a range of responses from the public and the media. In the end, a special committee deemed it disrespectful towards people who prefer not knowing; Instead, a website called arfgerd.is was opened, where women who wish to know about their genes, and the likelihood of developing cancer, will be able to do so.
One thing is for sure: Reykjavík’s present and future do look bright, at least when it comes to the weather. The sun will finally grace us with its presence this week. It seems almost impossible, considering the relentless rain of May, but believe it: two days of beautiful sunshine are expected today and tomorrow around the capital area. However, it’s the East and the North that will benefit the most from this late-blooming summer—temperatures are expected to spike up to a scorching 18-20 degrees from Akureyri to Egilsstaðir, and will remain rather high until the end of the week.