What Are Icelanders Talking About? Municipal Elections, Akureyri, And The Cat Ban

What Are Icelanders Talking About? Municipal Elections, Akureyri, And The Cat Ban

Published May 2, 2022

Photo by
Christian Wright/Unsplash

Municipal elections are coming up on May 14th, and for those of us in Reykjavík, recent polling has shown that the current majority—the Social Democrats, Pirates, Reform Party and Left-Greens—will likely continue to lead city council. If you want to go to where the real action is, look to the countryside. Which brings us to our next item on the agenda:

Local elections in Akureyri are proving more contentious than anything happening in the capital area. There are actually nine parties in the running after a total of 11 seats. This includes all seven parties represented in Parliament, the local L-list (town councils often have “lists” in the running; even Reykjavík had one, once upon a time: R-list), and Kattaframboðið. This last party, lead by artist enfant terrible Snorri Ásmundsson, has but one platform point: reverse the ban on outdoor cats that the town council has been trying to pass. Many of its candidates are expressly running on behalf of their cats because, at least for now, cats are ineligible to vote or run for office.

Speaking of which, the outdoor cat ban in Akureyri has ignited the imaginations of Icelanders across the country. You may scoff, but our own reports on this ongoing story have ranked higher than any other story on our site for weeks now, and much the same can be said for other Icelandic news sites. Many Icelanders have strong feelings about cats being allowed outside—for years, the South Iceland town of Hveragerði was plagued by a serial killer of cats, whose usual MO was to leave poisoned pieces of fish lying about. The culprit has never been found, and is probably being protected by others sympathetic to this murderous cause.

Reykjavík is far friendlier to outdoor cats, probably because our town is not entirely known for its sea bird nesting grounds (which, do note, are not at all endangered). However, the widespread public outcry about the outdoor cat ban caused Akureyri town council to amend the ban, wherein cats would only be banned from being outdoors between midnight and seven in the morning. Where the total ban was to start in 2025, this ban starts at the beginning of next year.

This has not been enough to stop Kattaframboðið from running, and it appears science is on their side. Even the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority have chimed in on the matter, saying that giving cats belled collars, or even large, brightly-coloured collars, is typically enough to warn birds of a cat’s approach, thereby offering a happy solution that would protect both bird life and the freedom of cats at the same time. Will this advice be taken? We may have to wait until after the elections to see.

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