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. Third is Ari Trausti Guðmundsson.
Ari Trausti with his wife María. Source: Ari Trausti’s Facebook site.
Ari Trausti was born in Reykjavík in 1948. He is married to María G. Baldvinsdóttir with whom he has three children and three grandchildren.
Educated in geophysics and propaedeutics, Ari Trausti has worked as a teacher, consultant and lecturer on environmental and tourism issues, served as a mountain guide, weather reporter, media presenter and producer, planned nature and science exhibitions around the world and authored a number of non-fiction books, fiction and poetry.
1. What qualities do you have that would make you a good president?
I have a broad knowledge, ranging from environmental science, geology and energy sciences to philosophy and culture; also being a writer and with many cultural family ties.
My work experience as a freelance consultant in different fields, writer, TV-producer/host, and educator for some 25 years provide a firm ground for the tasks facing the president.
I have presented Iceland abroad, guided most heads of state during their visits and travelled widely, including far-away corners of the world. I speak five languages fluently and two more to some extent.
My wife is an assistant nurse from up north with long, social experience from her work as a licensed practical nurse for the elderly and palliative care. We would form a creative and sound team at Bessastaðir.
2. What are the three most important goals you want to achieve as president?
Firstly, to enhance the understanding of important social values, responsibility, fairness and equality, and to let humanity and honesty take precedence.
Secondly, to act as an elected official who holds the trust of those who elected me, independently of their political views, and seeks to win the trust of most of my fellow countrymen by not taking sides but presenting arguments for and against various standpoints or political beliefs.
Thirdly, to support democratic discussions and solutions with my words and actions, as set out in the constitution, addressing general politics in a wide meaning, other societal concerns, moral discussions and to carry out ambassadorial work as the representative of Iceland.
3. On what issues will you focus when representing Iceland abroad?
I will talk about different views on issues within the political debate, e.g. the EU, explain Iceland’s natural resources and their sustainable utilization, the values, concerns and debatable issues regarding the Arctic, about efforts counteracting global warming and speak for increased cooperation between nations on a level of equality, to name important issues.
I will also present Iceland as an important travel destination and introduce the economy, the innovation efforts, science, history and culture of Iceland without pampering one firm or person, business groups or interest associations and by presenting a reasonable and true picture of the subject being presented.
4. Under which circumstances should the president use the 26th article of the constitution, that is, veto legislations and refer them to national referendums?
No one can foresee such circumstances without being an opportunist. The issue would probably be an overall important one. Possibly irreversible. The parliament would only provide a small majority for the bill of law, maybe rushing the legislation.
A rather clear view of the public standpoint has to be available; a standpoint that strongly opposes the legislation. The president would have to rely on sound consultation if the matter is a complex one (and that would be so in most cases).
A threat of resignation by the government should not be acceptable and if the president “loses” in a national referendum, he should not resign either.
5. Should the president take a stand on controversial issues, such as European Union membership, and publicly express his/her views on them?
No, and he has not his own political platform, an independent foreign policy, a healthcare policy or an energy resource policy etc. If the president tries to act in this way, he no longer is the trusted representative of the nation but a one man political party, an opponent (or follower) of the government day by day or month by month, meddling with the parliamentary discussions and possibly strengthening disillusions among people.
However, the president participates in the discussions as a moderator, helping to find solutions and acting as a democratic leader who strengthens the moral and facilitates an enlightened solution to discussions and measures, consequently taken.
Ari Trausti’s campaign website is aritrausti.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.
Read also, the Q&A with: