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Comedian to become mayor of Iceland capital

REYKJAVIK (AFP) - "A crash landing" for Iceland's politicians as a cheeky new party headed by a comedian won Reykjavik city polls. Watch the hilarious campaign video.

Arrest warrant for Icelandic bank ex-chairman
Former Iceland bank chief hit by massive lawsuit

The cheeky new "Best Party" won Reykjavik city council polls, results showed Sunday, a victory observers said highlighted discontent with politicians blamed for wrecking Iceland's economy.

The party -- whose comedian leader campaigned on clean politics, free towels in city swimming pools and a polar bear for the zoo -- took 34.7 percent of Saturday's vote and six seats on the 15-seat city council.

Party boss Jon Gnarr, one of Iceland's top comedians who is now set to become mayor, said he had not yet decided who to work with on the new council.

"The ball's in our court, I'm just going to have a good look at it and contemplate it and then do something beautiful with it," he told public broadcaster RUV Sunday.

"Nobody needs to be frightened of the Best Party because it's the best. And we only want what is best -- if we didn't, we'd be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party."

The party burst on to Reykjavik's political scene six months ago and its candidates broadcast their campaign pledges on a music video on YouTube to the soundtrack of Tina Turner's "Simply the Best".

Among its politicians are an ex-singer with the pop band Sugarcubes, a housewife and an architect.

"Things have gone sour, we have come to the clean-out hour," candidates sing in the video (find the below). "We want a city that is cuddly and clean and cool," is another line.

"I have never seen anything like this," University of Iceland political science professor Olafur Hardarsson told RUV about the results of the election, in which 83 percent of the capital's registered voters cast their ballots.

"I think we have to see these elections as the public's general expression of discontent with politicians, the political parties and the political circumstances we've had recently," Hardarsson said.

Voters were reacting to a parliamentary report into the causes of the country's financial 2008 crisis, he said, adding the poll result and five percent blank votes were "clues that politicians should take seriously."

The report published in April said former Icelandic leaders' "extreme negligence", and explosive bank growth, were the main causes for the financial crisis that crippled Iceland's economy.

The country suffered a massive blow in late 2008 when its three largest banks went belly-up and were taken over by the state during the global financial meltdown.

The Independence Party -- blamed for drawing up the blueprints of the banking collapse -- came a close second on Saturday, obtaining 33.6 percent of the vote and five city councillors.

Its outgoing mayor, Hanna Birna Kristjansdottir, downplayed the party's loss.

"In the national elections last year we received 22 percent but now we received almost 34 percent, so we're just very happy with that and it's a very good result to get that much support," she told RUV.

The Social Democrat Alliance, currently Iceland's governing party, came in third with 19.1 percent of the vote and three councillors.

The Left-Green movement, part of the governing national coalition, obtained 7.1 percent of the votes and one city seat. The Progressive Party took 2.7 percent of the vote but no seats on the council.

As results started coming in late Saturday, Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir said a "Best Party" victory could signal the end of the traditional four-party system in Iceland.

"We're seeing a turning tide in Icelandic politics that will have a great effect on future politics," she told public television RUV.

"I think this is a big shock, a crash landing for the four political parties," she said.

Last Updated (Sunday, 30 May 2010 21:25)

 

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