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Local elections in Iceland - 2022

Upcoming local elections are to be held on Saturday May 14th, 2022. Iceland is a democratic country with a very high voting rate. Here following is important information regarding the elections and the voting process.

Local elections allow voters and candidates to influence the policies and services in their community. We encourage everyone with the right to vote in Iceland to use this right.

 

By providing people of foreign backgrounds with more information about the election process, their right to vote and even how to run for candidacy, we hope to make it easier for them to participate in the democratic process in Iceland.

 

We will keep up to date information regarding the elections and various election related events posted here on our website and on our Facebook site.

 

Local elections are usually held every four years. Voters In Iceland do not vote for individual candidates, rather for a political party. Each party puts forth a list of candidates for each of the municipalities in Iceland. Voters choose which list of candidates they believe is the right one to represent their views in the local government.

 

The National electoral commission publishes official information about the elections on the website www.kosningar.is. Currently the site is only available in Icelandic but an infomation page in English is available:

 

Voting Procedures – Instructions for Foreign Nationals Regarding the Local Government Elections in Iceland on 14 May 2022

 

Here on our site you can select from a variety of languages at the top right-hand corner and we are doing our best to highlight what is most important to know.

Frequently asked questions

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Local elections are held every four years, with each municipality responsible for the election process; however, the National Electoral Commission (Landskjörstjórn) is responsible for the oversight of the election process.

 

Voters in Iceland do not vote for individual candidates rather for a political party. Instead, the political parties elect candidates during the primaries within their party, and each party puts forth a list of candidates for the municipalities across Iceland.

 

Voters choose which list of candidates they believe will be worthy of representing their views in their districts. At this point the majority of the political parties already have a list of candidates in different constituencies. The deadline for candidacy for the district elections is at noon on April 8, 2022. 

 

In some smaller municipalities the voting is a bit different from how is described here above. In that case, voters cast their votes by writing the names of their preference candidates on the ballot paper. In this event, voters must write out the full names and address of all the representatives and the reserve representatives they choose to elect on the ballot sheet and rank clearly the list of reserve representatives in order of preference. You may bring with you a list with their names into the voting booth to refresh your memory. 

Your participation through voting means that you can influence your district by voting for issues that affect your everyday life.

 

The district Mayor chairs the City Council, and The City Council has different functions such as deciding on the City budget, overall policies for the district and supervising the City Government and its administration. The configuration of the City Council determines the composition of the City Government according to a parliamentary system of government.

 

The City Council is divided into five Standing Committees: Finance, Health and Welfare, Environment & Urban Development, Education sports and Cultural Affairs and Transport and Environmental Affairs. These committees prepare all matters for decision by the City Council. 

 

Therefore, local districts are responsible for the everyday services in institutions and our districts. Some of these services includes; 

 

  • Daycare facilities 

  • Youth clubs, library  

  • Mental health care facilities  

  • Health centres 

  • Services for disabled, senior citizens  

  • Treatment and care of substance abusers 

  • Integration of refugees and immigrants 

  • Environmental issues 

  • Human Rights policies 

  • Transport issues snow plowing and street lights 

Voting rights of foreign nationals residing in Iceland have been significantly expanded. Nordic citizens gain the right to vote and stand for election when registering to live in a municipality. Other foreign citizens acquire the right to vote and stand for election after three years of continuous residence in Iceland, provided that other conditions for the right to vote are met, cf. Article 4 electoral law.

 

Icelandic students residing in the Nordic countries must apply to be registered on the electoral roll in the municipality in which they last had their registered domicile. Applications must be directed to the National Register of Iceland and applications must be received 33 days before election day.

 

The requirement for jurisdiction for eligibility to vote in a local government has been abolished in accordance with the eligibility criteria for parliamentary elections. Anyone who has the right to vote in a municipality and has an unblemished reputation cf. Article 6 electoral law. is eligible for election to local government.

 

Every Icelandic citizen over 18 years that is domiciled in the relevant municipality, three weeks before 14th May 2022, has the right to vote.

 

To find out if you have the right to vote and where you should vote, visit this site set up by Registers Iceland. It´s in Icelandic but you simply fill in your Icelandic personal ID in the field and press the “Leita” button.

A voter elects a list of candidates for a specific political party that has been compiled within the party, either by standing or on the basis of a result from a primary election, pre-election or postal election. Voters have the option of changing the order of names on the list of candidates and / or deleting the names of candidates, but a significant number of voters must do so in order for this to have an effect.

 

To find out what parties or collectives of people are running in the upcoming local elections you can have a look here to find a complete list of all candidates.

 

Each municipality lists up all the websites of the parties or collectives running in the elections and you can find that here.

 

Where it says “óbundin kosning” (non-binding) it means that everyone in this municipality can be voted for.

 

You can vote in two ways: By showing up at the polling station on election day itself, as most people do, or by voting outside the polling station before election day.

 

Before each election, you can look up information on where to vote here on the website of Registers Iceland.

 

Here is a video about how to vote on election day and another one about voting before the actual election day.

 

Here you find instructions from the National electoral commission about how to vote on election day. In some municipals there is not any  candidates list and all residents over 18 can be chosen, so called “óbundin kosning” (non-binding). Read about that here.

 

When arriving at a polling station, a voter goes to the designated area where they should cast their vote. There they identify themself by presenting identification.

 

They are handed a ballot paper and the voter enters a voting booth with the ballot paper. There they vote by marking a cross (X) with a pencil in a square in front of the letter of the list on the ballot paper they want to vote for.

 

  • If a voter wants to change the order of names in the list they are voting for, they put the number 1 in front of the name they want at the top, the number 2 in front of the name they want second in the row, the number 3 in front of the name they want listed third, etc., in so far as they wish to change  the order of the parties list.
  • If a voter wants to reject a candidate on the list they are voting for, they cross over the name of the candidate.
  • A voter must be careful, no matter what they choose, to make no other mark on the ballot paper, otherwise the ballot will be invalid.
  • A voter may not tamper with lists that he or she does not vote for, nor cross out names on any other list or change their order.
 
A voter then folds the ballot paper into the same fragment as it was in when they received it, walks out of the polling station and directly to the ballot box and places the ballot paper in the box in the presence of a representative of the electoral commission. A voter shall ensure that no one can see how he or she voted. The electoral commission then marks the name of the voter on the electoral roll as soon as the vote has been cast.
 

You must show identification when you go to vote. The identification must contain your name, date of birth and a photo. Examples of valid identification include a passport, driving license, residence card  or bank card with your photo.

 

For even more detailed description of how to vote, go to this information page by the Government of Iceland.

Yes you can.

 

Pre-election voting in will take place at the district commissioners’ offices in Iceland, from 15 April 2022. Information about opening hours and location will be available here.

 

Voting before the actual voting day can also be done at Icelandic embassies and consulates overseas and will begin on the 15. of April 2022. For further information about location and opening hours see the Ministry for Foreign Affair´s website.

 

Further information regarding pre-election voting, including voting in institutions and in private homes and instructions on how to cast a pre-election voting will also be found the Ministry for Foreign Affair´s website.

In order to be able to run for local elections, individuals must be eligible to stand for election. All Icelandic citizens who have reached the age of 18 when the elections take place are eligible to stand for election, with exception to Supreme Court judges and the President of Iceland.

 

In addition to having reached the age of 18, a member of a local government must have an unblemished reputation. This means that if a person has received a criminal conviction where the punishment is unconditional imprisonment, their reputation is considered tarnished until the sentence has been fully served.

A voter is entitled to receive assistance to vote. Assistance shall be provided by the election manager or an assistant accompanying the voter at the polling station. Assistance can only be given if the voter himself is able to express his will to cast a vote to the person assisting.

 

You have the right to have an election official or someone else chosen by you to help you vote.

Primary elections, also known as preliminary elections, are organized within and conducted by political parties themselves. Primary elections are when political parties select their preferred candidates who will run in the upcoming election on 14th May 2022. Some political parties hold closed primary elections while others have open primary elections. Some parties have a selection committe responsible for selecting viable canditates.

 

Every political party has their own date in which a candidate may submit their application to run for the candidacy. Additionally, each municipality has a deadline for preliminary voting. The Municipal Electoral Commission decides on the eligibility of candidates in municipal elections.

 

Go here to find instructions regarding running for candidacy, for electoral commissions and more (in Icelandic only). 

Official information on the upcoming local elections by the National electoral commission.

The National electoral commission publishes official information about the elections on the website www.kosningar.is. The website is only available in Icelandic at the moment but an infomation page in English is available here: Voting Procedures – Instructions for Foreign Nationals Regarding the Local Government Elections in Iceland on 14 May 2022

Informative videos about how to vote in the elections

Informative PDFs with voting instructions

The  National electoral commission has published voting instructions in Icelandic, English and Polish. One describing how it´s most commonly done hen there is a candidates lists to choose from and also for voting where there is so called “óbundin kosning” (non-binding), where everyone in the municipal over 18 can essentially be elected.

 

Download instructions:

Candidates list

Óbundin kosning

The political parties

Here below you find direct links to the websites of the main political parties that will be running in the 2022 elections. In local elections there are more parties or even combined inter-political (collaborations between parites) groups of people running and we will be listing more soon.

The political parties and candidates running

Apart from the bigger political parties that have members in parliament, many more parties or collectives of people are running in the local elections. A group of people can form a collective or a party that runs in the local elections in a given municipal even though this group of people has no involvement in parliament politics.

 

The bigger parties, even those that are part of a current parliament majority, could be far from being the biggest political power in a certain municipal at a given time. There you might have a group of people running and having strong majority support with no involvement in parliament politics what so ever.

 

To find out what parties or  collectives of people are running in the upcoming local elections you can have a look here to find a complete list of all candidates.

 

Each municipality lists up all the websites of the parties or collectives running in the elections and you can find that here.

 

Where it says “óbundin kosning” (non-binding) it means that everyone in this municipality can be voted for.

Flokkur fólksins (F)

Framsóknarflokkurinn (B)

Miðflokkurinn (M)

Píratar (P)

Samfylkingin (S)

Sjálfstæðisflokkur (D)

Sósíalistaflokkur Íslands (J)

Viðreisn (C)

Vinstrihreyfingin grænt framboð (V)

Election coverage by the media

Direct links to the election coverage of the media outlets that already offer special election sections on their sites. More will follow later.

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