In a few days, a national election will take place in which a
political party of mutineers, led by a woman, could likely take
over the government. This nation, which has the world’s oldest
legislature, would almost certainly be turned upside down,
and the political establishments of both major parties thrown
Am I speaking about the U.S.A.? Are the mutineers Trump
supporters? Is the woman Hillary Clinton? Is the legislature
the U.S. Congress?
None of the above.
On October 29, 2016, the voters of Iceland will go to the polls
to elect their new government. The political party most likely
to win this election did not even exist three years ago. Iceland is
currently governed by a coalition of the Independence Party
and the Progressive Party. These two establishment parties now
trail the provocatively named Pirate Party that was founded by
Birgitta Jonsdottir in 2013 in response to a financial scandal
involving figures from the ruling government. Winning 3 seats in
parliament, the Pirate Party, led by Ms. Jonsdottir, promptly moved
to overthrow the nation’s blasphemy laws (Iceland’s version of
“political correctness”) and succeeded.
In 2016, following the scandal, a demonstration took place in the
nation’s capital which brought out a huge percentage of the entire
population. It is now considered the largest public demonstration,
in terms of proportion of the population, ever to take place in any
nation! (It would be the equivalent of 21 million Americans
demonstrating in Washington DC.)
From that point on, the Pirate Party has led in the nation’s public
Iceland is one of the world’s smallest nations. It is also one of
the northernmost countries in the world. It is located entirely on
an island of active volcanoes, glaciers and hot springs, and has a
land mass of 40,000 square miles. Its population is 323,000 (about
the size of the city of Minneapolis). It was founded in the 9th
century A.D. by a Norwegian chieftain. It soon became an
independent commonwealth and established the world’s oldest
parliament, the Althing, in 980. Icelanders speak their own
Unless Americans were bargain-hunting for airfares in recent
decades, and took advantage of Icelandic Air’s low rate flights to
and from Europe (always with mandatory stops in Reykjavik,
Iceland’s capital), few U.S. citizens have visited this tiny and
Begun in poverty, and ruled from Scandinavia for most of its
history, Iceland won its independence in 1918, and became a
republic in 1944. With aid from the U.S. Marshall Plan after
World War II, the little republic industrialized, and is now rated
the 13th most developed nation on earth.
Iceland endured a financial crisis in 2008 (at about the same time
one took place in the U.S.), and many of its banks failed. Unlike
in the U.S., many bankers were jailed for their role in the crisis.
With an influx of tourism, and an international $4.6 billion
bailout, the country has recovered.
Recently, however, it was revealed that the prime minister’s wife
was involved in a financial scandal. The prime minister then
resigned and new elections were called.
Birgitta Jonsdottir is a poet, web programmer and former
Wikileaks activist in Iceland. She and her “pirate” mutineers
represent an entirely new direction in European politics. If the
Pirate Party wins on October 29 in this tiniest of European
nations, the reverberations of its mutiny could be enormous
throughout this entire ancient continent.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All right reserved.