The Protest Candidate Who Won

Mickey Mouse.  Bugs Bunny.  None of the Above.  Jon Gnarr.

Come election day, a vote for each of the first three “candidates” is an unambiguous message of dissatisfaction toward the mainstream candidates on the ballot.  In December, Jon Gnarr — a comedian from Iceland and self-described anarchist — joined the list.  Gnarr founded a facetious political party called the “Best Party” (in his words, “No one has to be afraid of the Best Party because it is the best party. If it wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party. We would never work with a party like that”) and lead them into the elections for Reykjavik’s City Council.

The Best Party’s platform was laughable, to say the least.  Nothing about job start programs, economic reforms, or expanded welfare programs — Iceland, one may recall, is in the midst of an enormous financial crisis.  Rather, Gnarr promised a group of kindergartners that he’d have a Disneyland built at the airport.   He demanded free towels at Reykjavik spas.  Polar bears would be added to Reykjavik’s zoo.

A vote for Gnarr, most agreed, was a protest vote.  A vote for Mickey Mouse, so to speak.

The difference?  Gnarr and his party won.  (Perhaps this campaign video helped?)

With roughly one-third of the vote, the Best Party earned six of the 15 City Council seats, a plurality.  While not enough to form a government, they were in the pole position to do so.  Gnarr, however, would not settle for making a politically prudent coalition; rather, he demanded that any Council member to join his coalition meet one non-negotiable (and utterly irrelevant) condition: he or she must have watched all five seasons of The Wire.

 

Bonus fact: In addition to a severe economic crisis, Iceland also saw a natural disaster earlier this year — the eruption of the impossible-to-pronounce volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which spread volcanic ash across Europe.  One way to help alleviate both problems at once?  Sell the ash as a collectible.  You can buy a jar of it here for just over $30.

Related: “Why Iceland?: How One of the World’s Smallest Countries Became the Meltdown’s Biggest Casualty” by Ásgeir Jónsson.