The Angry-sex Election

Here are my thoughts on the recent parliamentary election in Iceland.

… … …

That’s it.

That was the totality of my formed opinion on the recent democratic process this country just experienced.

It’s not that I haven’t thought about the election – ’cause I have. It’s just that I still can’t find a satisfactory angle to explain it. Or the result.

As far as I can tell, this election was about one thing: having an election. Following the collapse of the economy, the people of Iceland (or a fair portion of the population) demanded a mulligan for the 2007 election. This was a somewhat rightful claim, given the circumstances. (I say this because probably, we should have seen the writing on the wall in 2007, already.) As a result, the whole election process evolved around the people’s anger and desire to punish the politicians responsible for the crash.

It’s like angry-sex. You bicker and quarrel until you are all hot and bothered – angry, and you just won’t some form of release. But while sex may be a great way to vent all that frustration, it still doesn’t solve any of the underlying problems. It doesn’t really fix the issue that caused your anger in the first place (unless the cause was sexual starvation – I can’t rule that one out.)

That’s what happened. This may have been the most important election since the Republic of Iceland was founded in 1944. But instead of using this as an opportunity to move forward and debate what sort of society we want to build, we used it to release the frustration that had boiled over, and in the process, partially deflating the mass movement for change in this country.

The European Union may be the most important political question facing this country since we joined NATO. It was hardly mentioned, let alone discussed during this campaign. Ethics, and political reform? Next question, please. The economic desert and the financial disintegration of Icelandic homes? Nothing. What should post-crash Iceland look like? Yeah, I know. The other guy did it.

We could have built pillars, man.

Instead, we squandered the opportunity. We paid no attention to the ideological bankruptcy of Icelandic politics. There were no issues, no solutions, and no plans. No ideas. But we were all too happy to hit the bastards where it hurt – right there in the voting booth.

I think I’d rather just work out the issues first, and then have some of that good ol’ lovin’ sex.

This column originally appeared in the Reykjavík Grapevine: May 8, 2009.

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