Voters found themselves facing a truly difficult choice considering the city’s chilly situation: get warmth from waffles from the incumbents, a head/neck scarf from their main opposition or coffee from the kingmakers?
Or they could rough it either with the folks most inclined embrace nature naturally or the newcomers seeking to be naysayers.
All five political parties on the ballot gathered in front of Svalbardbutikken on Saturday to make last-minute pitches before the Longyearbyen Community Council election Sunday and Monday. The three parties with the most current members (Labor, Conservative and Liberal) set up tables with food and/or swag to hand out along with campaign brochures, while the Green and Progress parties opted for the simpler approach of members merely handing out their literature.
Voting is scheduled to take place at Kulturhuset from 2-6 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday.
The two-day election will determine the 15 members who make up the next council, as well as which party or parties control the ruling majority and the mayor’s office. Labor is looking to maintain its longtime hold on both, but nearly lost them during the last election four years ago and is again facing major challenges from the Conservatives that scored a tie last time (both parties won five seats) and the Liberals that – in return for naming the deputy mayor – used the three seats it won to determine the majority.
The Green Party which won two seats last time, is hoping to capitalize on the immense interest climate change has attracted in Svalbard and globally in recent years. Finally, the Progress Party is competing locally for the first time, stating it hopes to win a seat so it can be a voice of principled dissent while shunning the anti-immigrant rhetoric many of its members on the mainland are known for.
For locals who haven’t yet been besieged with campaign material either in person or online, here’s each party’s platform in its own words (note: the Labor and Liberal programs are in English both online and in print; the Conservative Party’s platform webpage is translated here and its English program is available in print; the Green Party’s full printed program is in Norwegian, but an English summary is available in the link below; and the Progress Party’s program is in Norwegian, but some of its Facebook content linked here is in English):