In an effort to introduce the six presidential candidates better to the readers of icelandreview.com in time for the election on June 30, each of them was asked to answer five questions about themselves and their policies.
Their answers will be posted in the order of response. Þóra Arnórsdóttir comes next.
Þóra and Svavar with their children. Source: Þóra’s Facebook site.
Born in 1975, Þóra was raised in Kópavogur, the capital region. Upon completing her studies, she began working for the broadcast media in 1998, first for the private channel Stöð 2, then national broadcaster RÚV.
Þóra is married to Svavar Halldórsson with whom she has three children. Svavar also has three daughters from a past relationship.
1. What qualities do you have that would make you a good president?
I believe a president should have simple qualities. He, or she, must honor certain values, namely moderation, humility, honesty, and respect for the people and its country. The ability to talk, and identify, with the people in the country is important. I love this country, I worked as tour guide for years, I have travelled around it with my family and I have gotten to know people all around Iceland.
I am educated in philosophy, economy and international politics, and for the last few years, I have more or less worked in media, speaking to visiting foreign experts and leaders, as a reporter for RÚV – The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.
I believe I can represent the country well abroad, as well as communicate and—especially—listen to the people. Last, but not least, having to coordinate my personal life and work to the extreme since I started a family has given me a wide perspective and an ability to prioritize.
2. What are the three most important goals you want to achieve as president?
I don’t regard the Office of the President as a political post, but the president must be able to earn trust, both the trust of the people and the political leaders, who must be able to trust that he acts in accordance to his own best judgment and on behalf of the people, and not on behalf of some other interests. Gaining trust is therefore essential.
I also would like to promote harmony and try to unite the nation around the values we respect and want to be recognized for. I want to be a candidate that the people can be proud of and will be able to relate to, regardless of their status and opinions.
3. On what issues will you focus when representing Iceland abroad?
We are a small nation, and it is important that we benefit from the connections that are made through the power of the Office of the President. There are doors that can be opened solely through that and we need to harvest that power in the interest of promoting Iceland in all aspects: culture, business and on a wide basis our image.
Iceland as a brand can be a valuable asset and I want to help to introduce that to the world. I regard the role as an advocate for the country’s interests as an important part of the president's role abroad. But all this needs to be done in a humble and respectful way.
4. Under which circumstances should the president use the 26th article of the constitution, that is, veto legislations and refer them to national referendums?
I believe that the 26th article should be used only when it is absolutely necessary, when there is a strong and clear difference of opinion between the public and the parliament, in matters of great significance and/or if the effect of the matter will be irrevocable.
I hope that I can, by e.g. regularly meeting chairmen of all parties represented in the parliament, promote reconciliation and grounds for solidarity and thus reduce the probability of having to use the 26th article.
Alþingi [the Icelandic parliament] needs to gain more respect and trust again. If big and controversial matters are given more time, with true attempts to achieve a more common ground made, I believe that the focus on the 26th article will lessen.
The task at hand is to improve the view of how a regime should act and how we approach controversial matters. That is a task for all of us, but especially the members of parliament.
5. Should the president take a stand on controversial issues, such as European Union membership, and publicly express his/her views on them?
No. In as controversial issues as the EU membership it is important that the president doesn’t take sides with one view over the other. The president should unite; not raise the fragmentation.
As president I will make sure the people get to decide in a national referendum whether we join the EU, but I will not side with either opinion.
Þóra’s campaign website is thoraarnors.is.
Traditionally, the role of the President of Iceland has been apolitical and symbolic. The president is to unify the nation and serve as cultural ambassador for Iceland.
The president is neither part of the legislative nor the executive, although he/she formally appoints governments and legislations require his/her approval, which is usually considered a formality.
However, the role of the president has been subject to different interpretations in the Constitution of Iceland and a clearer definition of the office is strived for in the draft for a new constitution Icelanders will vote on in a consultative referendum in October.
Click here to read the Q&A with Hannes Bjarnason.