Iceland Elects Its Own Stephen Colbert

Reykjavik, the capital and by far most populus city in Iceland. It is here that the country’s financial system collapsed and it is there that the people are still struggling in the aftermath. Like in many historical examples of an economic rock-bottom, people tend to look for a different kind of politician and for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s out of frustration or hope, and in Iceland’s case maybe also out of a need for some political comedy, from politicians.

Late in May, when the Reykjavik elections were drawing to a close, the front-runners disappeared as Jon Gnarr was elected mayor. I wouldn’t be concerned with a political upset on a mayoral scale in Iceland if it wasn’t for the fact that Jon was running to satirize the political system, not beat it!

It’s as if Stephen Colbert won the presidency, which I know a lot of us would have liked to see. But in the same way the Icelanders must be feeling, being amused that a comedian won is surely short-lived. Jon Gnarr’s campaign? Amongst many things, free towels at public pools (free towels automatically turns pools into a spa by European regulations), a drug-free parliament by 2020, a polar bear at the zoo, and a Disneyland at the airport. What’s even more interesting is now that Gnarr’s Best Party has formed a coalition with another, public support for the government has risen to 71% according to a local poll.

Although support is high now, it will be interesting to see what policies and reactions will be like as the party gets settled. No matter the length Gnarr lives out his term, it will surely be a refreshing change.


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