My Congressman

I cannot really decide what to do about the stjornlagaþing election coming up now at the end of November. I rather wish the 523 candidates would talk to one another now, and group themselves into 21 lists of 25 persons each, or 10 lists of 50 persons each, whatever. Just give voters some sort of sense of how the candidates cluster in terms of their views on important subjects. Though I like the DV "choose your candidate" program, it would have been nice to know that the 72% agreement I had with 10 people was on the same issues, instead of different issues. It would result in a slightly more efficient process, if the candidates were already now talking to each other and forming lists.

So, this very practical thought of mine, precipitated by the large number of candidates, got me thinking that maybe the Icelandic "list" system was not so crazy afterall.

Now, of course, as an American, I am not used to the list system, so my initial negative reaction probably had a lot to do with how foreign it seemed to me. But I also thought it was really strange that Icelanders did not seem to have the sense that such and such a person was "their" representative in Congress.  Anywhere I live in the US, I know that myself and about 150,000 of my neighbors have one person whose responsibility it is to make sure me and my neighbors have a means to get our concerns heard. When someone in the US has a problem or an idea, they can write their Congressman, and that Congressman is obliged to listen to that person because they are one of the voters in their district, regardless of whether or not they voted for them in the most recent election. It may not be a great system, but it does mean that technically speaking, no one in the US is denied a representative in Congress.

I naturally figured when I moved to Iceland that with 63 Althingi members, the ratio would be more like me and 5000 of my neighbors would have 1 person in the Althingi whose job it was to address my local concerns, to balance my local area needs with the national agenda.

So I was pretty disappointed when I had some problems and some ideas I wanted to talk to someone at the Althingi about, to find out that there was basically no way for me to do so. Unless I was an established member of an established party, there was no one I could really say was "my person" in the Althingi, no one I could go talk to who was obligated to listen to me, whether or not I voted for them, simply because I lived in their district, and it was their job to represent things that were in the interest of my district. Not that all ideas make it to the Althingi, of course not, but at least I would know who I should talk to.

Anyhow, that is what I think is wrong with the list system, and that is what I think is good about the personal election system. I do not know if one kjördæmi helps with that, or not. Seems to me instead there should be exactly as many kjördaemi as there are Althingi members, and each one gets one representative.

But it would be quite a mess if 500 people ran for election in each kjördæmi, and there was no way to get any sense of how or whether they would be able to work with the other people elected. So the personal election strategy is absolutely not a way to get rid of the party system, you still need a clear way of identifying priorities and agendas of each candidate running for office, whether that office be large or small.

The main thing is that every voter should feel like they have one congressman whose job it is to care about their concerns.


Unknown said…
Hello. It was nice to read your blog. I am candidate #6791 in this coming election. I am also a spokesman for bringing the power to the people. That not only means that I want voters to vote for individual persons instead of party´s. Also it means that I want to simplify the political system in Iceland. I want the people to be able to take part in the daily work at the parliament, with polls, comments and other useful actions. Also I want the people in Iceland to wote on all major issues. This kind of system means that congressmen should at all times know what people want from them and make it less interesting for them to constantly argue about everything for their own political benefit. Instead they will have more time to work in the interest of the public.

This explains part of what I stand for. Of course there is a lot more to consider for a new constition. If you want some further info from me you are welcome to contact me at I also have a facbook page at

Yours sincerely
Jon Lindal.

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