Comedian and new mayor Jon Gnarr spoofs politics in Reykjavik
Translation by:Nicola Potter
It's made an impact - The Best Party won the local elections on 29 May with 34.7% of the vote! We talk to party number two Einar Orn Benediktsson, a former singer and trumpet player who has collaborated with Björk and the Sugercubes
He's more powerful than Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo’s Vaffanculo Day ('Fuck You Day'), better than Horst Schlammer’s public sun-beds in Germany or Gaspard Delanoe’s proposed Parisian transport network - as part of his 2008 mayoral campaign - of travelling in hot air balloons over the city. With a party claimed to be the 'Best', founded in December 2009, Iceland's most popular actor Jon Gnarr proposes that Reykjavik’s inhabitants will have a white bear in their zoo and free towels in their local swimming baths, amongst others. We speak to the vice president of the party, Einar Orn Benediktsson.
cafebabel.com: What promises have you made to the people of Reykjavik?
Einar Orn Benediktsson: Number one on our agenda is to make Reykjavik an enjoyable place, where people know how to have fun. We are also going to pay particular attention to environmental issues and do everything we can to make politics ‘cleaner’. But above all, we have promised the people of Reykjavik new hope.
cafebabel.com: Have you used traditional methods of communication?
Einar Orn Benediktsson: We’ve used the internet a lot. All the Best Party members sang our manifesto to a cover of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best.
cafebabel.com: You talk about ‘anarcho-surrealism’ to describe your policies. What’s that about?
Einar Orn Benediktsson: We are against the present structure of political discussion. People should be able to take the initiative more in decision making in Reykjavik. In reality, we want to start a revolution, a new way of political thinking, which is more open. For example, we have created a suggestions section on our website, where everyone can leave their ideas concerning city politics.
cafebabel.com: What are the main reasons why the young people of Reykjavik distrust traditional politics?
Einar Orn Benediktsson: After the onset of the credit crunch in 2008, politicians, both right- and left-wing, did nothing to improve the difficult situation facing citizens. The people that voted for the Best Party come from the right just as much as the left; they were all attracted by our willingness to promote a real freedom in how politics are governed, and to open the discussion to them.
cafebabel.com: How did the other parties react to the news of your victory?
Einar Orn Benediktsson: They really welcomed us. For them it’s also an opportunity to change things.
cafebabel.com: A coalition is on the cards then...
Einar Orn Benediktsson: Yes, we are in discussions with the Samfylkingin, the (centre-left) social democrat party, and we are open to all other parties.
cafebabel.com: Who are the other members of The Best Party? How do they see their future after this victory?
Einar Orn Benediktsson: We have a bookseller, actors, local city workers, and so on. We come from the civil sector and the art world of Reykjavik. Our future is to make Reykjavik a place where people know how to have fun.