Report from Iceland #1
I have arrived in Iceland and although weather-wise I am moving from a late but warming European spring – the election is hotting up in these last few days before the Icelanders head to the polling booths. I was somewhat surprised, when driving from the airport into Reykjavik, not to be greeted with a forest of posters and placards. In fact they seem to be as rare as trees are in the beautiful barren landscape that surround the capital city. Talking to the Pirates in the room they rented as a campaign headquarters, I found out that the campaign happens largely on the airwaves and online. Which leaves mainly buttons, stickers and leaflets for the physical world. Later I went to the Stoffuni café bar, where the Pirates have their unofficial headquarters in Reykjavik. Here the respect and love the citizens have for Pirates was in abundant evidence.
On television the Pirates are coming over very well. Smári McCarthy represented the Pirates in a series of interviews with the party leaders (as PPIS has no leaders this was decided on a “who is available” basis). Despite being stressed from late to the studio he was able to deliver the best interview of any of all other leaders. This resulted in a massive jump up in the polls for the Pirates. In a similar vein Hildur Sif Thorarensen, welfare specialist for the Pirates, did not recognize the Minister for Welfare in a panel she was a member of. A shoot in the foot everyone thought – how could a welfare specialist fail to know who the minister was and be taken seriously? Well Hildur could, as her grasp of the subject was shown to be deep and wide ranging as the program developed. In a cliché – she got the show!
In the traditional press – mostly online – the Pirates did not so well. Especially the left wing press uses unfair tactiques. They are dragging up quotes from candidates written long ago and prior to them joining the party. Also featuring interviews with anonymous ex-pirates, whose claims are nebulous and unfounded and thus extremely hard to refute.
Nevertheless the Pirates are well known and well liked by the people they are meeting! While an electoral success can never be certain until the last vote is cast, in Iceland on the 27th April 2013, there will be the first Pirate members of a national parliament, well with a very high probability.
Featured image: Althingi Parliament House CC BY-SA Pirate Times