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On April 27th, Icelanders will go to the polls to vote for a new parliament, which will in turn likely lead to the formation of different coalition government further to the right. Based on past history, about 85% of the electorate will turn out. I myself will be going, albeit indirectly. :) And I find it really fascinating to actually for once have serious choices on who to vote for in an election.

But wait, what's that? The much-heralded "new constitution" is dead yet again? Leading candidates for the Pirate Party writing blogs about how women belong in the home and global warming is an anti-business conspiracy? What issues are in play here?

Join me below the fold!

Q: So, like, how does your electoral system work?

A: Like many countries, we have a separate head of state and head of government. The president (forseti), the head of state, is directly elected. He wields proportionally little power, and his main role is diplomacy, although he has "reserve powers" - the most famous being the rarely-used ability to "veto" a bill by means of sending it to a public vote, which was used twice during the Icesave banking dispute. The prime minister (forsætisráðherra) is the head of the executive branch. The executive branch is negotiated in the process of forming a coalition between parliamentarians (alþingismenn). The parliament is elected via lists - you cast your vote for the party list in your precinct. If they get enough votes for one seat, the top of the list is elected. If they get enough for two seats, the next on the list is also elected, and so on down the line.

This has a number of perhaps unexpected benefits, which I'd like to go into. But first, the obvious: it means you have a lot more choice. You're not throwing your vote away to vote for even a tiny minority party because it's not unrealistic for them to take at least one seat. And if they're popular enough to take one seat, then hey, they might take two. Or three, or four... etc. So people really can vote their conscience.

And as a result, parties proliferate. One could vote, for example, for Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (the right-wing Independence Party), Framsóknarflokkurinn (the center-right Progress Party), Hægri grænir (the Right Greens),Vinstri grænir (the Left Greens), Samfylkingin (the center-left Social Democrats), Björt framtíð (Bright Future, a new left party), Dögun (Dawn, another new left party),  Lýðræðisvaktin (Democracy Watch, another new left party), Píratapartýið (the Pirate Party), etc. And each one has a different set of policies instead of categorizing each group into merely left or right. For example, fylkingin and the Left Greens split over the issue of the EU. You'll notice as is generally the case the world over, the left is a lot more diverse than the right. ;)

A side effect of all of this diversity is that you have to inform yourself better. That's a lot of parties to learn their view on, and you can vote for any of them. And even more than that, because you're voting for a list, it's not just the parties' views that matter, but the specific candidates. At the very least you need to learn the views of the top of the list. And probably the next seat. And if it's a major party, you might want to go a good ways down.

It also encourages direct participation. Fed up with all of these parties? Form your own; the barrier to take a seat isn't high. Generally support the views of one party but want to personally have an effect? Get on the party list. Someone who's not been deeply involved isn't exactly going to jump onto the first seat, but it's not a super-high barrier to get lower down on the list. And you never know, swings happen so much with such a diverse array of parties and such an active electorate that you might actually win.

Q: So what's going to happen?

A: So what's going to be the outcome of the election? Well first I'll tell you what's not going to be the outcome, and that's a new constitution.  Contrary to the awful widespread blog "coverage", Iceland did not pass the new constitution bill. It's come up and been killed over and over. It looked like there was hope in recent months, as a non-binding referrendum showed extremely overwhelming support for passing it. But it must be passed in multiple parliaments, and the right managed to use a parliamentary maneuver to amend it at the last minute, preventing there from being time to pass it. And since it must be passed by two assemblies in a row, we're back at square one. There's no possibility for it to be ratified in the new parliament. It probably won't even get a first vote, because the new parliament is very likely to be center-right. The Progress Party is leading in the polls, followed by the Independence Party.

Q: Pretty disappointing, then?

A: Yup, Plus,a strange, and personally disappointing curiosity, is that of the new Pirate Party (which, unrelated, is a bit of wordplay - Píratapartýið not only doesn't use the Icelandic word for pirate, but uses the word for party as in "to party" as opposed to "a political party"). In general, one thinks of Pirate Parties as a "left-wing nerd party". I had a lot of hope for the party early on, attended the meetings, voluteerered, etc. But I kept getting a general sense that for some reason or another, it was becoming a magnet for the worst aspect of "nerddom", in particular, a troubling anti-woman sentiment. Not that this describes everyone - most definitely not. In fact, their current parliamentarian is a woman, the famous Birgitta Jónsdóttir. But one thing after another gave me a solid sense that while the party as a whole wasn't necessarily anti-equal rights, equal rights was something like #386 on the list of priorities,and if it even inconvenienced some other party issue, it would be the first thing to go. And that for some reason, a lot of closet (or not so closet) misogynists were attracted to it (my boyfriend thinks it might be because they have no home in any of the traditional parties, and so a new, sort of mildly-anarchist party may have appeal to them)

It started when people started reading the blog histories of Pirate candidates after they rocketted from being unknowns to taking nearly 10% of the electorate, according to polls. First one of the candidates linked feminist Hildur Lillendahs' blog (where she collects (without comment) nasty misogynistic writings in Icelandic from around the net, in order to show their prevalence) "Wow, Hildur Lilliendahl is fucking sick in the head, I've been looking at several of these comments on the site and most of them are just pointing out that these hyperfeminist whores are idiots..." then continues to compare her to the KKK, followed by a "no, the KKK is better" remark, then hopes that his comment ends up on the site, and finally calls her an stupid old hag and a stupid hyperfeminist cunt.

Okay... okay, that was bad, he was a ways down the list, right?  But then a different candidate, this time the top of one precinct list, was found to have written a blog entry years ago calling the struggle for equal rights for women an attempt to soften men and turn them into slaves and blaming a supposed (but actually nonexistant) increase in violence among youth on the increase of women in the workplace, arguing that more women need to stay in the home while men work.

Ow.

Then the other Reykjavík precinct captain was found to have written an article about how Global Warming is a conspiracy of scientists who hate corporations and are just trying to make money.

And it just keeps going.

So yes, all of that has been personally disappointing to me. I kind of prefer my pirates to be of a variety that doesn't think scientists are part of a big conspiracy and that women belong in the home.

Q: Ugh. So what exactly are the issues people are voting on?

A: Well, there's been a really popular "Alþingispróf" (Parliament Quiz) on DV.is which something like 40.000 people have taken so far (Iceland has 320.000 people total), so you can get a pretty good sense of what Icelandic politics is like and where the center is from the sort of questions that they ask. Ever wonder what sort of issues are at play in a more leftist country? I'll conclude this diary with a translation of the quiz for you. :) I'm omitting translations of the answer choices that are basically just "agree", "disagree", "strongly agree", etc.  To map financial figures into US equivalents, simply multiply by a thousand (the US has about a thousand times as many people).

------------

1. How supportive or opposed are you to the following statement: Additional heavy industry is beneficial for the Icelandic community.

2. How supportive or opposed are you því that an aluminum smelter be built in Helguvík on Reykjanes?

3. Are you supportive or opposed to increasing the requirements on industry concerning polution protection at their expense?

4. Are you supportive or opposed to the concept of three power plants being built on the lower portion of the Þjórsá (river)?

5. Which of the following possibilities best describes your views toward membership discussions with the EU?

o Iceland should keep going with the discussions and take a decision on the agreement which gets offered
o Iceland should stop the discussions
o Neither describes my views
o Don't know
o Don't want to answer

6. Which of the following options best describes your views towards membership of Iceland in the EU?

o The interests of Iceland are best served outside the EU
o The interests of Iceland are best served inside the EU
o Don't know
o Don't want to answer

7. What currency should Iceland use in the future?

o The Icelandic króna
o The euro, with EU membership
o The euro, without EU membership
o The Norwegian króna
o The US dollar
o The Canadian dollar
o Another currency
o Don't know
o Don't want to answer

8. How supportive or opposed are you to Iceland continuing to be part of NATO?

NATO is a military association of western states which Iceland has been a member of since it was established in 1949.

9. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Icelanders should grant more political refugees asylum.

10. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: We should maintain the current tarrif on imported goods.

The Icelandic Farmers' Association and miscellaneous politicians insist that we continue taxing imported goods notwithstanding that Iceland becomes part of the EU. Such tarrifs protect Icelandic production but cause higher prices on goods.

11. How supportive or opposed are you to loosening regulations to simplify foreign citizens moving to Iceland?

12. How supportive or opposed are you to allowing foreigners to buy land in Iceland?

13. Are you supportive or opposed to having Icelandic language knowledge as a requirement for granting citizenship?

14. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Immigrants of the girst generation can never completely acculturalize in the Icelandic community?

15. The Icelandic government pays sheep producers approximately $38 million per year (per-capita, $118/yr). Which of the following options best describes your views toward this support?

Support for sheep ranchers only, in accordance with the 2013 budget: 38 million dollars.

16. Which of the following options describes your views towards income tax in Iceland?

The tax rate in Iceland is 37,32% of income from 0 to $23.2k/yr, 40,22% of income from $23.2k to $71k/yr and 46,22% of income over $71k/kr.

17. How supportive or opposed are you to state-owned colleges requiring tuition?

Tuition for University of Iceland students today is $480 per year. The state provides approximately $80 million per year (per-capita, $667/yr).

18. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: There should be higher income tax, but when it is done it should be on those with the highest incomes.

19. Which of the following options best describes your views about gasoline taxes?

The Icelandic government taxes approximately $3.78 per gallon.

20. How supportive or opposed are you to the government paying artists' salaries?

The Icelandic government pays salaries for several hundred artists per year. The cost is approximately $4 million this year (per-capita, $33.70), in accordance with the budget.

21. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: It's natural to use a portion of federal taxes to prevent rural population decline.

The goal of the rural office is to work at improving towns and employment opportunities in rural areas. The department gets $2,9 million (per capita, $9.14) according to the 2013 budget.

22. How supportive or opposed are you to allowing the sale of alcohol in grocery stores?

23. How supportive or opposed are you to the government continuing to support radio and television with taxes?

24. How supportive or opposed are you to the passage of the so-called "Key Bill"?

The so-called "Key Bill" allows borrowers to return real estate to their creditors without the creditors being able to economically pursue the borrowers.

25. Are you supportive or opposed to the legal separation of investment banks and commercial banks?

The separation of commercial banks and investment banks has been discussed such that the former may neither buy or sell stock in other companies, nor have nor run investment funds.

26. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: It's natural that the government support art and culture which cannot economically support itself.

Many museums and cultural establishments such as the National Theatre, the Icelandic Dance Association, and the Icelandic Symphony are financial losses.

27. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: We should abolish the risk fee (several percent additional interest) on consumer loans indexed to the Icelandic króna.

28. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: It's realistic to get involved in the general paying down of the debts of individuals.

29. The base financial support for students according to LÍN is $13.5k/year. Which of the following options best describes your views towards this support?

Support for students in rental or private housing is called base support. A student in parental housing or rent-free housing gets 50% of base support. If a student is supporting a child/children under 19 years of age then that is taken into consideration.

30. Which of the following options best describes your views toward the amount of disability benefits?

The lower limit of an unwed parrent with one child was $19,488 last year, for example.

31. Which of the following options best describes your views towards the amount of unemployment benefits?

Base unemployment benefits are $16,570 per year (assuming 100% claimant rights).

32. Which of the following describes your views towards court judgements on sexual assault cases in recent years?

33. Are you supportive or opposed to the names and addresses of convicted pedophiles being made public to the community?

34. Are you supportive or opposed to the legalization of marijuana?

35. Are you supportive or opposed to prohibiting the sale of tobacco in Iceland?

36. How supportive or opposed are you the current fishing quota system (the private ownership of fishing rights, generally by large companies, which is blamed for the decline of small fishing towns)?

37. How in agreement or disagrement are you to the following definition of national resources: National resources are considered to be marine stocks and other natural resources of the ocean and sea bottom in Icelandic waters outside of net range, water and other natural resources which people are traditionally accustomed to being private rights, such as water power, geothermal heat, and minerals on national lands.

This is the definition of natural resources which is found in the constitution bill which the constitutional and oversight committee passed this term as a base recommendation for the constitutional council. There has been argument over the definition of the concept.

38. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Usage rights for natural resources should be long-term to ensure the profitability of the companies that use them.

In the bill for the new constitution which was put forth this term was written that natural resources which are not in private ownership shall be the permanent property of the government. Quota owners and holders of exploitation rights of resources want the contract terms for exploitation rights to be long to ensure profitability.

39. How many years should be the limit for usage rights of geothermal heat?

40. Are you supportive or opposed to limited small boat sea fishing without the need for a permit?

Accordant with such concepts those who do limited small boat sea fishing don't need to have a permit.

41. Are you supportive or opposed to parliament regarding the conclusion of the constitutional committee as binding?

The bill of the constitutional committee for the constitution is only advice but parliament managed to get the bill to consideration during this term.

42. Are you supportive or opposed to direct election of parlimentarians?

43. How supportive or opposed are you to the whole country being one precinct?

Accordant with current the current precinct layout, the country is divided into six precincts. Candidates run in a specific precinct. This has led to unequal voting strength between different precincts.

44. How supportive or opposed are you to the right of the public to information which concerns the public interest being enshrined in the constitution?

45. How supportive or opposed are you to cabinet members having a seat in parliament?

Accordant with the current setup,cabinet members are also parlimentarians. Changes would be brought about for clearer separation between the executive and judicial branches.

46. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: People should be able to pay specifically for access to better healthcare.

47. How important do you consider the inclusion of psychologists in the national healthcare system?

Today, psychologists are not part of the national healthcare system in contrast with e.g. doctors.

48. How important do you consider the inclusion of dentists in the national healthcare system?

Today, dentists are not part of the national healthcare system in contrast with e.g. doctors.

49. How supportive or opposed are you to the inclusion of private for-profit parties in the healthcare system?

50. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Icelanders live with equal rights whereas womena nd men live with equal status and opportunities.

51. How supportive or opposed are you to allowing surrogacy in Iceland?

A surrogate receives in vitro fertilisation whereas the fetus is genetically not her own. The egg and sperm being from the future parents of the child is the most common form of surrogacy. (stadganga.is)

52. How supportive or opposed are you the sale of prostitution in Iceland?

According to current law it is prohibited to buy the services of a prostitute but permitted to sell one's self, so long as no third party has an interest in the business. Thus the punishment falls on the buyer.

53. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Aid in other countries should preferably come from support with taxes rather than fundraising campaign funds.

54. Which of the following options best describes your views towards the Reykjavík airport best?

o The airport should continue being in Vatnsmýri
o A new airport should be built in a Reykjavík neighborhood
o Domestic flights to Reykjavík should go through the Keflavík International Airport
o Other
o Don't know
o Don't want to answer

55. How supportive or opposed are you to tolls on major roads to finance their creation?

Changing the income method in transportation affairs such that usage fees can be instead of gasoline and oil taxes. Usage fees would be required at turnpikes on major roads, for example the area of the capitol region.

56. How important do you think it is that the Vaðlaheiði Tunnel be built?

The Vaðlaheiði Tunnel should improve the connection between Eyjafjarðar og Fnjóskadals as Víkurskarð is certainly a hurdle to cross in the winter. The expected cost is approximately $80 million dollars (per-capita, $250)

57. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: It's justifiable to do experiments on animals if it is in the interests of progress of medical science.

58. Do you consider it more important to keep a check on inflation or unemployment?

59. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: The freer the market is, the freer people are.

60. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Businessmen and producers are more important to the community than authors and artists.

61. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Nobody decides where they're born so it's absurd to be proud of one's homeland.

62. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: When people rise up, what matters is class rather than nation.

63. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: Good parents need to sometimes spank their children.

64. How supportive or opposed are you that Iceland have a national church?

Accordant to the constitution, the Icelandic Lutheran Church is the national church of Iceland. Accordant to the budget this works out to state funding of $11 million per year (per-capita, $35).

65. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: It is important that religious studies are taught in elementary/middle school?

66. How much are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement: School prayer should not be permitted in primary schools.

If you're curious enough to take the test yourself and compare your views to how mainstream Icelandic parties stand, you can take it here. To help with the answer keys:

Hlynnt(ur): Supportive (lit: warm)
Andvíg(ur): Opposed
Hlutlaus: Neutral
Mjög: Very
Ekki: Not
Alls ekki: Absolutely not
Sammála: In agreement
Ósammála: In disagreement
Hvorki né: Neither
Alltof: Far too much
Of: Too much
Hæfilegur: Fair
Háar, háir, há: High
Lágar, lágir, lág: Low
Þungir: Heavy
Vægir: Lenient
Mikilvægt: Important
Veit ekki: Don't know
Vil ekki svara: Don't want to answer
Spurningin er mér mikilvæg: The question is important to me

Originally posted to Rei on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 05:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry for the typos, all. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, FarWestGirl, ichibon

    I can't edit the diary here (pasted it in during a lunch break with a cell phone), but I will later today when I get home.

    •  Thanks for the diary-love Iceland. What are you (0+ / 0-)

      Doing over there btw?

      •  I work as a computer programmer (3+ / 0-)

        I add features and fix bugs in the air traffic control systems.  As for my personal life, that'd be stuff like hiking, hanging out with my bf, partying in the 101 (a number of the  bands know me by name, though it's embarrassing to hear the lead singer of a band tell a crowd of 100 people, "This is our last song - thanks for coming.  And thanks Karen for coming!"), etc... just generally enjoying life.  Oh, and a big thing is I'm currently preparing to buy land and start building a custom house on Kjalarnes.  :)  Spending lots of time working on crazy designs.  Oh, and  I've also helping my family plan a trip to Iceland.

  •  Where is this smelter going? (0+ / 0-)

    I know where the Reykjanes area is, but I have no idea where Helguvík is and Google Maps doesn't seem to know either.

    •  Google Maps is generally pretty clueless with (12+ / 0-)

      Iceland; we usually use ja.is:

      Helguvík

      I personally have mixed feelings about heavy industry here.  On one hand, I hate to see wilderness spoiled.  On the other hand, if people are consuming things like aluminum (which, IMHO, is a good thing versus other alternatives; it's lightweight, which reduces energy consumption in vehicles, and is very recycleable), it has to be produced somewhere, and a place like Reykjanes that's basically just a giant, young, non-diverse lava field, and running off of geothermal power, well, it's hard to think of a better place in the world for one.

      In general, if the production and consumption-ends are built responsibly, I cautiously support it (I'm not a NIMBY-er, I keep a global view), but only if the power is geothermal.  I'm strongly opposed to further hydro production.  They've already done enough damage here with it already, and they've merely tapped 20% of the large hydro potential so far.  For geo, it's a one-time well drilling, and you have to add roads and power lines of course (pipelines too if you want to send the used hot water off for peoples' homes), but that's a pretty darn small footprint compared to most types of power generation.

      •  Oh, near Keflavik. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rei, FarWestGirl

        I've been to Keflavik (briefly) but never went north of it to Helguvik.

        a place like Reykjanes that's basically just a giant, young, non-diverse lava field, and running off of geothermal power, well, it's hard to think of a better place in the world for one.
        Yeah, I really can't think of a better place to put it.  The airport is already right there, and it's not too far from Reykjavik.  I would imagine it has to be somewhere with a port for the material transport.
        •  And they really need the jobs in the area, too. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl, MGross

          Some large chunks of Keflavík are practically a ghost town since the NATO base closed.  And a lot of the small fishing villages are on the decline  because of the quota system.

        •  This might give some background (0+ / 0-)

          http://www.youtube.com/...

          Actually sounds pretty disturbing and dirty.

          The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

          by MeToo on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:34:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with him about the rivers (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lotlizard, MGross, ArkDem14

            But not about the geothermal.

            First off, his statement about how unprecedently large these plants is flat-out false.  I'm sure he knows well (or at least hope he knows!) that Hellisheiði, for example, is 300MW, a far cry from the 40MW he's talking about.  And he specifically cites the Svartsengi plant from whence the Blue Lagoon comes.  It's only the fourth biggest in Iceland, but even it is 76MW (150MW thermal).  So he's simply wrong there.  

            Then his immediate next slide is wrong.  Using old figures, it took about 50MJ/tonne to produce steel and 300MJ/tonne to produce aluminum.  That's six times as much, not thirty.  And, as we all know, aluminum is a light material, so per-tonne figures are distorting - steel is three times as dense as aluminum.  But those are old figures.  The energy cost for producing aluminum has fallen dramatically, and new plants use about 130MJ a tonne.  Which is per-unit-volume comparable to steel.  And producing metals isn't just about energy; per unit (whether mass or volume) produced, steel smelters are one heck of a lot more polluting than aluminum.  And once the products are produced?  The aluminum will never rust away and need to be replaced, and it melts down easier than steel.  And lastly, as mentioned, aluminum's main increasing usage is in vehicles of various varities, where it overall saves a tremendous amount of energy.  The per-pound lifetime savings varies but averages something like 70 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of aluminum used instead of steel, which is a huge difference.

            His argument about how people are producing aluminum so that people can throw away cans fails a reducto ad absurdum because you could apply it to everything (people waste some of everything we produce), and therefore, nothing should be produced, and therefore, humans should all live naked in caves and 98% of the population starve to death. Want to try to improve the recycling rate?  Great, please go do that, I've got your back.  But don't make the ridiculous argument that because some people waste stuff, we need to stop producing goods.

            And beyond all this, he also pushes the fallacy that the only way one can produce power is "the way people are producing power now".  The reality is that people produce power using conventional resources (conventional hydro, conventional geo) because it's the cheapest.  But let's just say that's totally unacceptable to you?  Fine, power is dirt cheap here, we can use unconventional resources and still be cheaper than in most countries.  

            Geothermal is only 1/4 of our electricity production but 60% of our primary energy (all forms of energy combined).  How could this be, when primary energy also includes things like gasoline?  Simple: the overwhelming majority of our current geothermal energy production is simply for heat.  Wells in the 100-130 degree range, not as cheap to produce electricity from as the higher temperature plants.  Of course 100-130 degrees is too hot to send into the municipal hot water system, so what do they do?  They just blend it with cold water.  Throwing away the extra heat.  So, too opposed to the production of what's probably the lowest-environmental-impact-per-MWh form of energy on the planet via producing new geothermal wells?  Fine, hike the price by a few krónur per kilowatt hour and start recovering the power that we're throwing away today.

            So yeah, to sum up,I'm well in disagreement with him.

  •  Interesting diary (7+ / 0-)

    You should add the "DK Elections" tag as I'm sure many of the regular readers there would be interested in this.

    Why is Iceland set to turn out the center left government when their actions saved the country from an EU periphery style austerity depression? I take it that the Social Democrats are still in favor of EU membership which has grown increasingly unpopular if the polls are to be believed.

    •  Several answers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stephen Wolf, northsylvania, dewtx

      One, the last election was somewhat of an anomaly.  I don't think there's been a single time in Iceland's history before that when Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn hasn't been in the government.  So in a way it's just a correction.

      Two, people tend to have short memories - doesn't matter what country you're in - and forget who caused the mess and slowly start blaming those who were left to clean it up.

      Three, Framsóknarflokkurinn has gotten a boost from the fact that they opposed the Icesave deals.  They're not the only ones who did, but it of course helps.

      Yeah, the Social Democrats still are in favor of EU membership while their Left-Green allies are still opposed.  But in general EU sentiment in the country is a bit more negative - it was a tough sell before and an even tougher one now. Also no real idea in sight on what to do with the currency.  I think most people want to be on another currency, but there's none that's popular enough.  The Euro's not popular.  The US dollar even less so.  One political party was pushing the Canadian dollar at one point.  Lots of people talk wistfully about the concept of a separate Nordic currency, but barring the total collapse of the Euro, that's not going to happen.  Etc.

      As for the EU itself, I personally don't have a solid view on whether I support  membership or not. I, like a number of political parties here, support the accession talks without taking a stand on the actual issue, instead wanting to see what sort of deal is offered to evaluate on its own merits.

      •  Actually, the króna saved Iceland (8+ / 0-)

        Because Iceland has its own currency, it was able to devalue quickly when the financial crisis hit, which kept Iceland competitive.

        Greece, Portugal and Ireland could not do this, so they were left trying internal devaluation (i.e. deflation) instead, which is incredibly damaging to an economy and very difficult to do fast enough. It would be a big mistake to ditch the króna now. Without it, Iceland would have suffered much worse an economic fate. But don't take my word for it. Listen to Paul Krugman

        "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

        by Drobin on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 10:29:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's easy to talk about ho:w wonderful a country (4+ / 0-)

          like Iceland having its own currency is when you don't have to live with what that means.  I hear people overseas saying stuff like.  "Yeay, Iceland collapsed its currency".  Do you know what that means, having your currency be half its value, in a country where the overwhelming majority of goods are imported and most homes were indexed to foreign currencies?  It means that at the same time, while home prices and salaries are falling, your principle owed doubles, your savings half, and the price of imported goods (most goods) shoots way up.  What fun.  And FYI, the exchange rate hasn't increased an iota since then.

          I'm not saying necessarily that it was a bad idea - I'm just saying, it's not the wonderful panacea people on DK like to paint it as.

          And want to know what else it means to have a low-circulation weak currency?  Here's what inflation is like here, historically.  And because of that, hey, you know how interest rates in the US (if you haven't ruined your credit history) are, what, 4% right now for a 30 year fixed?  Here in Iceland it's 7.6% for a 30 year with only 5 fixed.  You know how big of a difference that is in interest owed?

          People here aren't talking about changing currencies for giggles.  There's serious downsides to being on a weak currency.

          •  The only reason it's easy to talk about (0+ / 0-)

            is because the only other alternative would have been the Euro and Iceland has fared far better than countries like Ireland or the Baltics (which had a peg). Yes the devaluation hurts, but it at least spreads the pain around a lot more evenly rather than forcing large blocks of the country out of work and into poverty.

            Of course it wasn't a panacea, but the alternative of either having been on the Euro, or actually bailing out Icesave/other institutions and then having to deal with the sour economy the way Ireland has is a recipe for irreparable damage. If the country hadn't devalued and let the banks default, it would have made our Great Depression look like a walk in the park which is why the Euro countries are screwed when Germany continues its imperialistic financial policy. Greece isn't going to reach its 2008 level of output for a generation at this rate while Iceland's economy has recovered far more rapidly than any of the Baltics. In the long run Iceland is going to have come out far ahead of the other European countries that had credit bubbles.

            I don't know what other people on DK say about Iceland; this is mainly from having an economics background and reading people whose specialty is international economics like Paul Krugman among others.

            •  First, (4+ / 0-)

              No, the Icesave case was not like Ireland's situation: do we really need to get into that also?

              Secondly, the euro hasn't collapsed in the same way as the króna, anything like it.  You want to come here and tell people who had their principle owed on their house double that they're so lucky that they weren't on the euro?

              We collapsed so much deeper and earlier than everyone else that it'd be practically impossible for us to not be recovering faster, barring general incompetence.

              Our unemployment rate is traditionally in the 1-3% range.  So yes, by Icelandic standards, our unemployment rate has been extremely high.  It only looks low by the standards of other nations (and people often distort further it by providing seasonally-unadjusted numbers during peak employment times)

              That said, I don't think we've been mismanaged through the crisis (at least, in general).  I think the right decisions have, for the most part, been made.  But the simple fact is, it's both wrong to play down how much a currency collapse sucks for regular people, or to overplay the recovery.  Both of which seem very popular to do on this site.

              And I'll close this point by pointing out that the ISK collapsed to half its value during the crisis.  Nearly half a decade later, the ISK is worth... still half its former value.

              •  Of course currency collapse sucks (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Stephen Wolf

                but the alternative would have sucked much more. The shock to the Icelandic economy was such that the pain was going to be considerable in any case. I'm not an economist, but here is basically how I understand it:

                1. Peripheral countries in Europe were subject to a boom, largely driven by financial markets, that led to salaries and prices going up much faster in those countries than in Europe's core economies.

                2. Financial collapse. The peripheral countries now have salaries that are way to high to be able compete.

                3. The salaries must come down, in one of two ways. Either you a) devalue your currency, or b) you suffer a long, deep depression that forces salaries down. There is unfortunately no option in which the average Icelander does not lose a big chunk of his or her purchasing power.

                However, while option a) is very painful, b) is extremely painful (just ask Greece).

                In fact, Iceland's experience shows quite clearly the difference. At this link, for instance, you can see how Iceland's unemployment increased much less than Ireland's or Estonia's, and started to come down much earlier (and no, Iceland's bust did not start earlier that other countries). Also, here, you can see how the percentage slump in Iceland's GDP is much smaller than in Ireland, Estonia or Latvia. And this is in spite of the fact that the financial shock to Iceland's economy was much greater than in those other countries.

                I'm not trying to minimize the pain Iceland has gone through. But it could have been much worse. What Iceland did was courageous in that it refused to bail out the banks and let them go under in spite of enormous international pressure. But had Iceland not had its own currency, it would not have mattered.

                "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

                by Drobin on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 03:47:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Krugman (0+ / 0-)

                  I should dig up the link where Krugman admitted he didn't know much about the Icelandic economy.  And its obvious, every time he talks about it.  

                  I have no clue where that graph comes from, because Iceland's unemployment rate doesn't look like that.  It looks like this.  Perhaps that's seasonally adjusted?  At the very least it's mislabeled.

                  Iceland's unemployment rate is about three times that which it was before the crisis.  Ireland's is about 3.5 times what it was before the crisis, and their crisis began later and slower.  Sooo... what is this supposed to be proving, exactly?  And the Estonia inclusion makes Iceland look pretty poor.  And since when was "Ireland supposed to be an example"?  From who?  Certainly not the IMF.  

                  So wages were "unusually high" here before?  So who was overpaying fishermen?  Who was overpaying sheep ranchers?  Who was overpaying aluminum smelter workers?  Yeah, bank bosses and investors were way overpaid, but so your solution to that is to double most people's principle and slash their savings and buying power?  And we're supposed to consider that a progressive solution?

                  Krugman loves the lies of omission, posting whatever graphs and data makes Iceland looks good and leaving out what doesn't.  Hey, when was the last time that Krugman mentioned the IMF's latest conclusion that to ever lift capital controls, Iceland is basically going to have to go through another round of nailing creditors again (and the consequences that entails)?  When has he mentioned that the IMF forecasts for Iceland for several years from now are lower than their forecast for Ireland, relative to respective pre-crash GDP figures?  

                  Oh, and the graph you're looking for is GDP per capita, not raw GDP.

                  Here's another one for you, seasonally-adjusted volume of GDP indices.  Note also the volatility of the Icelandic economy.

                  Hey, let's look at mortgage comparisons, here, here, here - so much healthier fundamentals, right?

                  Should I really even get started on the Icelandic capital controls and their distorting influence on the economy?  Or the Housing Financing Fund timebomb?

                  But no, Krugman has a story he wants to tell, so don't expect any of that from him.

              •  Also, to adress a couple of your specific points (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Stephen Wolf, Englishlefty

                For those who don't know--it was quite popular in Iceland during the financial boom to take out mortgages in Euros. This is why many people in Iceland now find themselves owing twice as much on their house as they did just a few years ago.

                In my mind, this is not different from how many people in the US was snookered into taking on interest-only adjustable rate mortgages which then blew up in their face, causing them to lose their homes. In both cases, risky financial products were sold to regular people who had no idea of what they were getting into. A symptom of the finance bubble, I guess. But that's another discussion.

                To address you other point, it is true that the ISK has lost almost 50% of its value. This is permament. It will not come back. The reason it lost so much is that this is roughly the amount by which Iceland became overpriced during the boom.

                Had the króna been pegged to the euro, everyone's salary would have had to go down by 50% instead. That is not possible without a major depression, with unemployment levels in the 20%-30% range for an extended period of time.

                This is in fact what Greece is going through right now. They have the euro, so devaluation is not an option. As a result, their unemployment is approaching 30%. Meanwhile, they have managed to have a total deflation of about 12%, which means they still have a very long way to go. This is happening while the Greek government simultaneously is forced to dismantle the social safety net so most people have nothing to fall back on. The great depression was a picnic in comparison. Greece will likely come out of this a third world country.

                This could have been Iceland. Really. Of course it would have been better had the bust never happened. But given that it did, Iceland is coming out of it in much better shape and sooner than almost anyone predicted, and having its own currency is a big reason for this.

                "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

                by Drobin on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 04:16:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I only brought up Icesave because it was (0+ / 0-)

                emblematic of the capital inflows that were characteristic of every single crisis country without fail. Every single one that went into crisis after the 2008 meltdown was a country that had run a longstanding current account surplus and Iceland or even the USA were no different. I'm not all that familiar with the particulars other than that a lot of the money was owed to foreign creditors and the Icelandic government didn't think it was worth en-debting itself to them through a bailout the way Ireland did to German/Dutch/British-etc. banks with its bailout. That's why I brought it up.

                And additionally, yes I realize devaluation is horrendous if you have a lot of debt denominated in a foreign currency as do economists like Krugman et al. It's just that it's far better to have debts in a foreign currency and a job that's going to over time (in this case a long time sadly) pay more than it is to be in the situation of a much higher proportion of the Irish/Spanish/Baltics who have debts in the denomination of a currency your country can't control and lose your job and see all of your friends/family lose their jobs in the way that many if Greece, Ireland, Spain, the Baltics, and the European Periphery did.

                Don't get me wrong, I seriously do empathize with the plight of those in Iceland and I think it's horrible that the EU and the US (and to a lesser extent Japan) didn't do more to help mitigate the crisis, but what the Icelandic government did was absolutely the best response given the limited options available. What else were they possibly going to do that wouldn't hurt more in the long term? I totally think that those who were wealthy in all of those countries should have payed more to help those who weren't, but that just sadly wasn't an option.

                The true fault lies with those in the United States and Germany and similar surplus countries who where the proponents of policies that helped the elite and only the elite and that's a very hard proposition to stick to, even if it is one that you and I both agree to. Those were the people who thought that unlimited capitalism, i.e. unlimited power of investment, was the way to go, and the fact that bubbles can come and pop proves otherwise.

                •  No, Icesave was not like that (0+ / 0-)

                  Icesave accounts were private accounts, mainly small dollar private reirement accounts and municipal funds.  And the conflicts was not with creditors, but between governments, because the British and Dutch bailed out their people and then demanded recompense.  Private creditors never came into the picture.  And the accounts were never government backed, unlike pretty much everywhere else.  The Icelandic govermnent was required, like everyone, to create a system for backing them, but the system they created was a private fund.   And it was proven that Icesave was not a government-backed account system because EFTA court ruled specifically that.

                  And additionally, yes I realize devaluation is horrendous if you have a lot of debt denominated in a foreign currency as do economists like Krugman et al. It's just that it's far better to have debts in a foreign currency and a job that's going to over time (in this case a long time sadly) pay more
                  Except that not only did our unemployment rate shoot way up compared to our norms (something Krugman always distorts), and is still very high compared to our norm despite being nearly half a decade after the crisis, but that "pay more" job you talk about is effectively paying a whole lot less because the price of all goods is now higher.

                  Oh, and did I mention the austerity, too?

                  Sorry, it just gets tiring hearing people talk about how wonderful a currency collapse is.  It's not wonderful.  It sucks.  I see it all over the place.  Don't get me wrong, it serves me well.  It makes all the assets I brought over worth more, and there's all sorts of property for sale from people who lost everything when they could no longer afford it.  But obviously that's small comfort for the other side of the equation.

      •  Adopting the Euro would be bad. (0+ / 0-)

        The Dollar if anything worse.  One hopes the Icelandic people will draw the right lesson from the fates of the peripheral Euro nations and not make that mistake.

        The Nordic currency idea might work, but I'd think long and hard before going even for that.

        “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

        by jrooth on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:55:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What happened to Besti Flokkurinn? (0+ / 0-)

    (aka "the Best Party")

    Did they just exist as a vehicle for Jón Gnarr to pull a joke on his countrymen or are they still around put standing the parliamentary elections? If they are still around, what do they stand for? (other than a drug free parliament by 2020)

    "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

    by Drobin on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:26:51 AM PDT

  •  Another question (0+ / 0-)

    Recently I read about an effort in Iceland to ban all Internet porn. Since the dead-tree variety has been banned in Iceland for some time, I suppose this is a logical next step.

    First of all, this seems futile to say the least. Second, given that this would require a permanent censor board for the internet who would sit there and make value judgements about what other people should be allowed to see, it raises some serious free speech issues. Nonetheless, the article I read suggested that there was more or less unanimity in Iceland that this would be a Good Thing To Do.

    Do you know where this stands and if there is general agreement in Iceland about this issue?

    "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

    by Drobin on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 10:37:44 AM PDT

    •  That was a red herring. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx

      It was someone one minister proposed, but was never taken all that seriously here and while there are some who support the concept, it was mainly just used as a way to bash the government.  And what Ögmundur said has been misrepresented - even here in Iceland, but moreso overseas.  While he sometimes talked in general terms, he was mainly focused on violent pornography - the concept being that if it's not outright people being forced into violent sexual activity, they're at least being paid to be put into such situations - and that while there's already concern and some studies about porn encouraging the objectification of women, there's a lot more concern about violent porn and its effects.  And the logic for the ban was the same as for child pornography.  It's no easier to eradicate child porn than violent porn.  You can't really eradicate it.  But does that mean that people shouldn't try?  Does that mean that bans don't have an effect?  Of course they do.

      But as stated, it was never taken very seriously, there wasn't a bill, anything of that nature.

      Also, possession of porn is legal here.  Publishing it isn't.  There's a lot of these sort of distinctions here.  For example, as one of the questions comments on, it's legal for a person to sell their body.  It's not legal to buy.  The ban exists not to enforce some moral code (Icelanders are a lot more open about nudity and sex than Americans!).  It's to discourage the concept that women can be treated as sex objects and to prevent the economic exploitation of women as sex objects.  And if you're concerned about women being economically pressured (or otherwise pressured) into sex work, why would you want to make it worse for the people you're trying to protect by making them also a criminal?

      Ads using people as sex objects and strip clubs are also illegal, for the same reason - discouraging objectification. Although two of the country's formerly 11 strip clubs are still in business using a loophole in the law (they're no longer officially strip clubs and they officially have no connection to the strippers).

      Surrogacy is also illegal at present, although there's debate over whether or not to legalize it (I and some of my friends are divided over it).  Same reasoning - the potential for economic pressure to force women into being used as an object, for their reproductive capabilities.

  •  That questionnaire (6+ / 0-)

    is detailed! Must be nice living somewhere that even bothers to ask such questions, even given that one might not like some of the answers.

    You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

    by northsylvania on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 10:50:51 AM PDT

  •  Wait. You have different parties, and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marsanges, dewtx, Timothy J

    people express their opinions on dozens of issues? What is such a form of government called, I don't recognize it.

    One tip, stay in NATO. Be a shame if your ice got all melted at once.


    Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

    by Jim P on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:05:51 AM PDT

  •  Hmm.. (0+ / 0-)

    Every party was above 74%
    The left-green alliance was my highest at 79% followed by the Pirates and Dawn.

    We only think nothing goes without saying.

    by Hamtree on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:09:43 AM PDT

  •  pirates vs Green (0+ / 0-)

    Hi, thanks for another educative diary,

    I have one question, what is the relationship between the Pirates and the Greens? On the Continent (thats here, Europa) I have watched the development of the Pirates with some astonishment. I initially would have thought that this group of people would/shouold find their natural home with the local Green party, and I at first thought that the Greens had majorly dropped the ball by letting the pirates develop separately.

    But then here (that is, slightly to the right of me, in Germany) the Pirates have taken a similar turn to the freak-fringe right. Or, have turned out to be shot through with camouflaged rather extreme wight wingers. So its interesting to hear that the same has turned out in Iceland.

    Why is that so? One would expect that anarchists would criticize the Greens from the left (at least the Black Block people, who I once was familiar with, would). So what happened here?

    Then, its interesting that you have right-wing Greens as a separate entity. We did have them too, when the Greens here were founded, it was one of the important early conflicts. There is a very logical way of thinking from a "Blut und Boden" ideology to green thinking, such people contributed to the beginnings of the Greens (who never were nor are a genuine leftist party). So it seems in your place, these people were enough to survive as viable party?

    They have some honour. They are not the same as neonazis or the like, who have completely superseded them herearounds.

     

    •  The right greens are a small, young party (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges

      They're basically libertarians.  They're polling at about 6%.

      Interesting what happened with the pirates on the continent, I hadn't heard about that.  :Þ  It seems that such pirate parties also attract an anarcho-right wing, not just an anarcho-left.

      •  I know this is stupid, but I just realized NEW (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rei, marsanges

        SMILEYS are possible when using the Norse alphabet! I don't know when I'm going to use
         :Þ

        but am waiting for an opportunity. And what do
          : æ
        and
          : ð

        signify?
        "I just ate a lemon"
        and
        "licking my lips?
        ?

        Getting back to the real world, please keep letting us know about affairs in Island. It's unique but who knows, new stuff besides Pirates may come out Icelandic politics.

    •  The base of the pirates in most of Europe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nimh

      Seems to be young white men with a techie background. This is a group that enthusiastically buys the ethos of the internet as a locus of freedom, is sceptical of government and is not in general likely to acknowledge its own privileges. A teenage libertarian outlook is not that surprising when seen from that perspective.

      I think the tension between the green movement as a New Left vehicle and the green movement as the representative of some pastoral never-was utopia exists in a lot of Green parties. Certainly you see that tension in the UK Greens, where the older generation (who joined when it was the Ecology Party) and those in rural areas are very focused on environmental issues but may otherwise be quite conservative, whilst in urban areas they position themselves as a further left (but also much more middle-class) alternative to Labour, and do not heavily stress environmental issues in their messaging.

    •  Greens (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nimh

      I don't know in iceland but in Germany the Greens getting more conservative by the year.
      The greens originate to a big part from the kids of the well off conservative society and now age is catching up after 30+years ;)

      so I will not be surprised to see the greens go into coalition governments with the conservatises in the future - its talked about since more then 10 years already - being ridiculed at first but with every year the talks get more serious

      "How many years since you found yourself staring at an endless sky? " VNV Nation - Endless Skies

      by Kavalor on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 10:49:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks. Very interesting. (4+ / 0-)

    I'm disappointed to hear that about the Pirate Party.  I heard a little about them when Birgitta Jónsdóttir was interviewed on Democracy Now and that had sounded pretty promising.

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:47:50 AM PDT

  •  in the list (0+ / 0-)

    with answer options, what means "frekar" ?  Context makes me believe "somewhat". Might you have forgotten it in you helplist?

  •  unsurprising result (0+ / 0-)

    "Vinstri Grän" - green left - comes out as my best fit ... funny as I am supporter of the GroenLinks in my own country. System or accident? LOL

    but indeed the poll returned high scores for just about any party, all in the high 60s at least, so it does seem to have a bit of a compressed dynamic range? Does not seem to want to tell anyone who they should NOT vote for ...

    thank you again rei. it is great to hear from Iceland. Whatever happened to Johanna Sigurdsdottir (?) whoi gained some international fame when she became ... boss? of Iceland? (head of state or head of government?) Did she do a good job? Is she still there or already past? Admittedly I dont follow Icelandic affais a lot. Although, more than Montenegro :)

    •  Yeah, the range is fairly compressed on the poll. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges, Zack from the SFV

      Not sure why, but I guess that a number of poll options are popular or unpopular for most parties.  You can see the breakdowns of stances by clicking on individual parties.

      Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is still our prime minister - she's currently on a trade mission to China.  She's retiring after the election.  The replacement head of Samfylkingin is Guðbjartur Hannesson.  I like both of them.  Although it'll be a shame that I'll no longer get to point out that we have a lesbian prime minister, heh  ;)  Nobody here cares about it, but it's fun to point out to people in other countries.

    •  A GroenLinks supporter! (0+ / 0-)

      You guys are quite the threatened species right now ... do you think the party will survive? Won't some kind of point of no return be reached once the Party for the Animals, say, gets more seats than the Green Left?

      (For those reading along, the Dutch "GreenLeft" party was founded fifteen years ago as a merger of the Radical, Pacifist Socialist and Communist parties, and increased its initial support of 3-4% in the 1990 and 1994 elections to 5-7% from 1998 to 2010, but collapsed to just 2% of the vote last year. The party has veered consistently further right since it was founded, and by last year was seen to have practically ended up to the right of the Labour Party.)

  •  I will confess (0+ / 0-)

    ... that I've not taken the time to read through all your abundant details before commenting. I do wonder your opinion: My Icelandic connections are less than optimistic about this election, saying that they think people are basically going to go with the deregulators, at least in part attributable to wanting to go back to the party days.

    What's your thoughts on that idea? (I'll be going back to read closely now.)

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 02:58:58 PM PDT

  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

    My run through that offers Dögun at 84% and Lýðræðisvaktin at 80%.

    I guess I am doomed to being discontented with both my government here in the USA, and my fantasy government in Iceland.

    (The upside--sorta--is that a move to New Hampshire is in the offing, and so I'm trading in annoyance with California for a state where all the statewide officials are women. And Democrats. And the legislature just banned commercial prisons. I'll be waiting to see what it is that outrages me there, politically... after I arrive, I hope.)

    "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

    by ogre on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:00:59 PM PDT

  •  This election will be (0+ / 0-)

    the introduction to a series of defeats that will be faced by the centre-left across Western Europe and Australia this year. The most recent opinion poll, putting the incumbent centre-left Social Democrats on just 10% (a decrease of 20% since the last election) is rather amusing.

    Iranian and German by origin. British by birth.

    by germankid101 on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 09:16:47 AM PDT

  •  Tips to Rei (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gabjoh
    But I kept getting a general sense that for some reason or another, it was becoming a magnet for the worst aspect of "nerddom", in particular, a troubling anti-woman sentiment
    ^This is not unique to Iceland. Germany has had a similar problem, and it's been among actual leaders and elected officials of the Pirate party who scraped by into state parliaments. It's one of many reasons why I don't like the entire "Pirate Party" phenomena in Europe. Pirate parties, regardless of their somewhat admirable support for more open internet laws, (which are in Germany absurdly overbearing and regulatory), are simply full of amateurs who aren't ready to be in government positions, drain mostly young leftist voters from real leftist parties, and are literally infested with misogynists. I don't like parties that are vehicles for one issue, and in Germany they are hurting actual progressive parties, particularly the Greens.

    "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

    by ArkDem14 on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:04:10 AM PDT

    •  Wow, I went and started reading about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArkDem14

      the Pirates in Germany, and you're totally right.  One of their members of parliament, for example, in a debate on affirmative action called it a "tits bonus".  Apparently someone made a "greatest hits" website of German pirate sexism; I've been punching some into Google Translate, and just, uck.  Apparently the situation over there has gotten bad enough that a group of women broke off and formed their own separate pirate mailing list.

      •  Their a waste of votes (0+ / 0-)

        by silly young leftist Euro-hipsters, as my German friend calls them. Germany would be much better off without a Pirate party and with most of those votes going to say, a real, professional party like the Greens, who share similar ideology.

        "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

        by ArkDem14 on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 10:05:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  out of all the parties (0+ / 0-)

    which one would halldor laxness vote for?

  •  Iceland is awesome (0+ / 0-)

    Iceland is basically what would happen if you distilled all the best qualities of Scandinavians into their purest form and then threw in a big dash of punk rock. That is really all I have to say about this, other than "thank you" for doing the heavy lifting of those translations.

    Kansan by birth, Californian by choice and Gay by the Grace of God.

    by arealmc on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 09:34:40 PM PDT

  •  Familiar (0+ / 0-)

    The Icelandic political system sounds a lot like the Dutch one, from its strong Prime Minister who is not elected by voters but by parliament to its arduous coalition building to its wide array of parties (there's 11 in the Dutch parliament) to the massive popularity of an online election test. 66 questions is pretty hefty though, damn! That's thorough, I think the popular Dutch ones have something like 30.

    •  OK, finished the test! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArkDem14

      OK, I filled in all 66 questions (phew). The result:

      81% Dögun
      80% Vinstri græn
      78% Lýðræðisvaktin
      78% Alþýðufylkingin
      78% Píratar
      78% Regnboginn
      78% Framsóknarflokkurinn
      77% Björt framtíð
      77% Hægri Grænir
      77% Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn
      76% Samfylkingin

      Huh. That's all very close to each other. It probably didn't help that for 18 of the 66 questions I had to fill in variations of I don't know, I'm neutral or I don't want to answer this question, since often I just felt I didn't know enough to make a choice. (There were also a lot of ethical questions, like about surrogate motherhood, that I'm generally shy to answer affirmatively one way or another.) But still, I offered an opinion on 48 questions .. are Icelandic parties so close to each other? Or does it just indicate that, to Icelandic standards, my opinions were all over the place? ;-)

      •  Yeah. Also, they don't show *every* party (0+ / 0-)

        There's a couple that didn't make your list, like Húmanístaflokkurinn.  But a bunch of neutral answers will yield similar results.

        If you want to see where parties differ, click on the specific party names and you can see how each party answered each question.

        Funny to see Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn higher than Samfylkingin!  I'm guessing that maybe you expressed strong anti-EU sentiment?

        •  Not strongly anti-EU, necessarily, (0+ / 0-)

          .. but skeptical about whether Iceland would be better off inside the EU, definitely.

          I used to be pretty enthusiastic about the European integration process, and I still think the right-wing Euroskeptics usually sound somewhat hysterical. But considering the ongoing severity with which the Commission imposes budget and deficit norms which basically deprive national governments from setting much of any economic policies of their own that veer from the neoliberal standards - and make it practically impossible to undertake an efficient, Keynes-like stimulus to get the economy out of a rut - I don't really see the benefit of joining the EU for a Western country.

          I mean, it's one thing if you're an East-European country. Then EU accession promises significant financial support; a drastic improvement of chances for young people to travel and migrate; and EU standards on corruption, rule of law and democracy that are actually a big improvement on the 'native' ones. Here in Hungary, the European Commission's influence is often seen as the  last hope for democrats concerned about Orban's authoritarian populism. But if you're Iceland? I'd be skeptical about joining our club.

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