Sunday, May 13, 2007

Voting twice a day

Icelanders yesterday had two elections they could vote in. In no particular order of importance, the elections were:

1) The parliamentary (Alþingi) elections. The 63-person parliament is re-elected in its entirety every 4 years. This is basically the most important election in the land, since the government is formed by a majority coalition in the parliament, and the president is mostly just a figurehead.

Without getting in too much detail, the ruling coalition (made up of one large party and a smaller one) saw its numbers reduced from 34 to 32 MPs, giving it the barest of majorities. However it seems that parties here are quite flexible in their alliances, so the upcoming weeks should be interesting. I must confess to being an election junkie (even though I've never been able to vote yet), so it's been fun watching the campaign season unfold here. I'm still a bit unclear about the math behind the allocation of seats in the parliament though, since I can't find much English documentation about it. If any Icelander's reading this, what's the difference between a "Kjörd sæti" and a "Jöfn. sæti"?

2) Otherwise, Icelanders (well some of them) voted in Eurovision too. This is a big event here... Small nation syndrome perhaps? We went to a "Eurovision party" (which I guess was also an "Alþingi party" at the same time) where people were watching the performances and drinking and eating and voting by SMS. This was my first time watching this event... And yes, it's extremely campy. The geopolitics behind the way the votes of one country are distributed among other countries is interesting though. Oh, and Serbia won this time.

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