I remember people telling me when I first came to Iceland years ago, that Icelanders were not especially politically active. They were always complaining but never actively doing anything against it. “Icelanders don't protest” is what I heard many times.
Times have changed though. The people of Iceland have learned a thing or two when it comes to voicing their disapproval of political decisions etc.
Now it is not a rare occurrence for a large crowd to gather at Austurvöllur square in front of the parliament building Alþingi, screaming and drumming and protesting against something.
I think it is great that Icelanders have finally become politically active and organize protests etc. – at least they do it much more than before.
Another thing that has become more popular is launching petitions for all kinds of causes.
Right now, the fishing quota petition is the hottest item, as fellow Iceland Review writer Eygló explained so well yesterday.
The way the fishing quota, or rather mackerel quota, is distributed, is quite fishy (pun intended). I guess it is obvious that, among other things, people don't think it is a good idea that politicians working in the committee handling the quota also own fishing companies that profit from the quota.
Read more about it here. And that is just one reason why Icelanders want the nature of the fishing quota to be revised thoroughly.
So far, the petitions has been signed by over 30,300 people.
Another petition that has popped up on my radar with so far much less support is this proposal to limit the numbers of hotels in downtown Reykjavík.
Personally, I think this is an important cause and I signed the appeal. It has become increasingly difficult for local residents to find apartments in the city center because most flats are being rented out to tourists. Also, many new hotels and guesthouses are being built at this very moment. It feels like every-other shop on Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, the main shopping streets, has turned into a souvenir store.
In just a few years, the downtown area will only be occupied by tourists. Ok, that is a worst case scenario, but I'm serious about how fast and how much the booming tourism industry is changing the face of Reykjavík.
It is just reasonable to control the huge influx of visitors and limit the number of hotels in one area, this would also help to invigorate the not so frequented neighborhoods of the city. It's all about sustainability!
There is a lot more to be done but this would at least be a step in the right direction.
I mean, when you visit a country you don't just want to see other tourists, right?
Katharina Hauptmann – [email protected]