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robertogreco : politicians   5

We can't leave politics to politicians, says ex-Reykjavík mayor | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio
"Icelandic comedian and former Reykjavík mayor Jon Gnarr joins Jian to talk about how his audacious "joke" political campaign became very real, transforming the satirist into a bona fide political force in his country. 

"It's so easy to have an opinion when you don't have to take any responsibility," says Gnarr, who jokes about all the "boring things" he had to learn after his surprise election. 

"Responsibility changes everything, and the thing with responsibility is that it is it's not popular. Nobody wants it, nobody likes it." 

Democracy is about all of us

Alongside light-hearted quips, Gnarr shares several serious lessons -- perhaps most importantly, that ordinary people -- especially young people -- are losing interest in democracy. He argues that career politicians have had a real hand in turning them off. 

"More and more people would never dare to go into politics, and that's wrong -- because democracy is about all of us," he says. "We need a more variety of people to get involved in politics." 

Watch Gnarr's musical platform (with subtitles) below and tell us: do you agree that democracy is too important to leave to "professional" politicians and "alpha types"? Would you like to see more unlikely leaders take office?"
2014  jóngnarr  reykavík  politics  bestparty  anarchism  democracy  participation  politicians  iceland  class  empathy  peace  punk 
june 2014 by robertogreco
More punk, less hell! - News Ausland: Europa - tagesanzeiger.ch
"Nothing in Gnarr’s youth pointed to good fortune or success. He was the late progeny of a bitter couple: His father was a policeman and Stalinist: «Pravda» came in the mail and the current head of state and party of the Soviet Union hung on the wall, albeit the wall of the broom closet. Gnarr’s mother was a conservative.

As a communist, his father never received a promotion. His endless monologues at the dinner table awakened in his son a deep aversion to politics. Gnarr also had other problems. At school, he struggled from the start and doctors declared him mentally retarded. He was short, skinny and had ADHD and migraines. He learned to write only when he was 14 and he was 16 before he could recite the months correctly. By that age, he had already made two suicide attempts and a tour of homes for troubled youths behind him.

Everyone, including himself, thought he was stupid. So when he was 13, he made three decisions: he became a punk, he became the class clown («better a clown than a dummy») and he gave up on learning at school. From then on, he read privately. And read he did, extensively: on anarchism, Bruce Lee, Tao Te Ching, Monty Python and surrealism.

Gnarr became a psychiatric nurse, taxi driver, bassist in the punk band Runny Nose, a father at 20 and at some point realized that he hated music, but liked to talk to the crowd between the songs. The impromptu speeches got longer and longer. Eventually, the side gig became his profession. Gnarr started a career as a comedian – telephone gags on the radio, stand-up, columns, sketches, TV shows.

Being a comedian was not a normal profession in Iceland. In the early days, kids at school asked his sons if he was mentally disturbed. As people became accustomed, he became famous. («Although being famous in Iceland, with 300,000 inhabitants, means very little,» as he says. «You buy a bottle of milk and presto, you’re famous».) Later, during the campaign, his competitors reminded people of his gags: such as the parody in which Gnarr portrays Hitler imagining the schmaltzy CD ‹No Regrets›. Or his success as a bald-headed, egotistical, yet touchingly awkward Stalinist on a TV show. The characters, they implied, illuminate the man.

And Gnarr shone in the roles. Professionally, he manifested a certain preference for bold hairdos and ridiculous clothes, such as a one-piece bathing suit. His conversion to Catholicism was still fresh in people’s memory as well. For months he had tried the patience of Reykjavik’s newspaper readers with enthusiastic columns praising the Pope and the church hierarchy before ultimately deciding to remain an agnostic.

On the other hand, he was a father of five, the author of a book, a comedian and an established TV star; a calm man with a wild smile – still a bit chaotic, but with a smart wife. And he had a long road behind him."



"And then came the video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxBW4mPzv6E ], perhaps the cheeriest in the history of politics. A reworded version of Tina Turner’s ‹Simply the Best› sung by the candidates, the song included a brief, rousing speech by Gnarr that began with the words: «Fellow citizens, it is time to look into your hearts and decide. Do you want a bright future with the Best Party? Or a Reykjavik in ruins?»

The video was «not a major deal», as Proppe said later. «We’re pros when it comes to music videos.» And yet it’s the most delightful political video ever made: watching it will put you in a good mood for two hours. It excited people and attracted them. Two weeks before the election, the Best Party was polling at 38%.

That was the moment when Gnarr thought of quitting. He was exhausted and not himself. The politicians irritated him: before and after the debates, they made small talk, but in between they attacked him. He realized that although he had no idea about the issues, he had begun to act as if he did. It scared him.

After days of depression, he was lying in the bathtub when two ideas came to him. The first: «The Best Party was an idea. It had grown up, so I had to follow it. Even against my own interests. It was bigger than me. I had become a player in my own play. My freedom was gone. I was trapped. But also curious.» The second thought that persuaded him was a joke.

The final debate took place the next day. Gnarr went to the lectern and said: «We at the Best Party have always said that we would keep going as long as we were having fun. Everything has now become very serious. I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the office of mayor and the Best Party from the elections». A protracted hush fell over the room. The audience sat in silence, the other politicians looked at each other. And then Gnarr said: «Joooooke!»"



"One of the projects of the Best Party was to change the political culture. What was lacking was common decency. Gnarr says: «In the beginning I thought that the people who yelled at me in parliament were actually angry, but they’re not. As soon as the cameras are off, they want to have a beer with you». Proppe: «There are two languages: one for the public and one for behind the scenes. You can’t do that in any other workplace.» Örn: «Let me put it this way, I didn’t find any friends among the politicians. With friends, I talk about hobbies. But the politicians’ hobby is politics».

«It’s a bit disingenuous,» comments journalist Karl Blöndal, second-in-command at the conservative paper Morgunblaðið. «They see politics as theater, but then they are shocked by the theater in politics.»

In the political battles, the Best Party employed a concept from the Tao Te Ching – ‹wu wei›: never fight back, but let the attack miss its mark. And express your respect for your opponent."



"An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school organization (that no one complains about any more) and a relaxed, booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year (and some say that is the new bubble). In speeches, president Grímsson no longer praises Icelanders’ killer instinct, but their creativity. Real estate prices are again on the rise and the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason: «I’m a comedian, not a politician.» He added: «I was a cab driver for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as well.»

«My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?›» says Örn. «And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach, that’s truly fucking the system!»

Others will keep going: they have founded the Bright Future party. Proppe has since become a member of the national parliament and Björn Blöndal, the prince of darkness, now moves in political circles like a fish in water. «It’s a lot of fun when you’ve learned how you can make a difference and you slowly get good at it. Politics is a craft.» Blöndal led the ticket for the Bright Future party in the Reykjavik elections. He and Dagur Eggertson vied to succeed Gnarr. For long stretches the polls were inconclusive, but in the end the Social Democrats won handily. Without Gnarr at the helm, Bright Future halved its result to take 15%. Eggertson now heads a four-party coalition that also includes the Pirates and the Left-Greens."

[alt link: http://mobile2.tagesanzeiger.ch/articles/10069405 ]
jóngnarr  iceland  2014  punk  politics  anarchism  democracy  ephemeral  pop-ups  taoteching  wewei  bestparty  agnosticism  dropouts  unschooling  deschooling  politicians  surrealism  comedy  catholicism  belief  religion  hierarchy  hierarchies  autodidacts  reading  self-education  reykjavík  ephemerality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
BBC News - Jose Mujica: The world's 'poorest' president
"It's a common grumble that politicians' lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president - who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay."

[On YouTube too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoCk8UWn_s0#! ]
politicians  2012  politics  poverty  sustainability  presidents  josémujica  uruguay 
november 2012 by robertogreco

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