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700,000-year-old glacier is running for president in Iceland: 'Best candidate to come up'

Campaigners say that the future president will send bottles of glacial meltwater to sign documents.

700,000-year-old glacier is running for president in Iceland: 'Best candidate to come up'
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | matthardy

Iceland's 2024 presidential elections are set for June 1, and among the candidates, one truly stands out. This candidate is 4,744 feet tall and 700,000 years old. Sounds absurd, right? It’s indeed bizarre, but no joke. Iceland’s Snæfellsjökull, a stunning glacier-capped volcano, is running for president.

Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Sebastian Scheuer
Representative Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Sebastian Scheuer

Surrounded by hills and waterfalls, the glacier holds many invisible chasms. According to the Guide To Iceland, the name Snæfellsjökull comes from a blend of two words: “Snæfell,” meaning snowy mountain, and “jökull,” meaning glacier.

Image Source: Iceland: Hot springs near Reykjavík and Snæfellsjökull (above). Illustration of 1911. Women washing clothes in the spring water. Liebig Collectible Card. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
Image Source: Iceland: Hot springs near Reykjavík and Snæfellsjökull (above). Illustration of 1911. Liebig Collectible Card. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

For centuries, Snæfellsjökull has been revered as an ancient sacred site brimming with energy, power, and mystery. Some folk tales connect the volcano-glacier to a half-human, half-mythical creature, while others claim the surrounding rocks are trolls petrified by sunlight. In 1993, a rumor even circulated that an alien ship was set to land there. It never did, of course.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | simonmigaj
Representative Image Source: Pexels | simonmigaj

Snæfellsjökull is also featured in Jules Verne’s classic 1864 novel “A Journey to the Centre of the Earth." When news broke that it was running for president, people were shocked. However, campaigners insisted this was a serious and important initiative. “It’s definitely something we’re serious about, it’s not just a stunt,” campaign member Cody Skahan told Positive News. “We have thought carefully about how the glacier might fulfill its presidential duties."

The idea to run Snæfellsjökull for president came from poet Angela Rawlings, a campaign member. It came to her in 2010 while standing in the glacier's shadow. “It suddenly just came to me. What if the glacier was president?” Rawlings told The Guardian. The goal was to spotlight the climate crisis and its impacts in the election.

When the idea was put into action, it received mixed reviews. Some people were thrilled. “I’ve actually been surprised by the volume of glee, let’s say, that we’ve been receiving. People are like ‘Oh my gosh, yes, best candidate to come up’ or ‘That’s the only candidate I will even consider'," said Rawlings. Others were hesitant. However, the campaign team worked hard to dispel doubts from both the council and voters, detailing various scenarios to persuade people.

For instance, for any event the president was invited to, a bottle of glacial meltwater could be sent. And in the case of meetings, members could be redirected to glaciology experts. “Many Icelandic people are all for it,” explained Daniela Amado, another campaign member. “Others, especially older people, consider it more of a joke.” The campaigners also believed it was a positive step in fostering people’s awareness of the glacial melting. They said that at the current rate, Snæfellsjökull could melt away altogether by 2050.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | simonmigaj
Representative Image Source: Pexels | simonmigaj

Rawlings’ idea was mainly based on the support of the global Rights of Nature movement, which aims to give rivers, oceans, mountains, and other natural communities the same legal rights as humans. Plus, Snæfellsjökull fulfilled all the eligibility criteria essential to filing the presidential nomination.

First of all, Snæfellsjökull was older than 35 years and could be considered a citizen of Iceland. It did not have a criminal record either. So it fulfilled nearly all the conditions for the candidacy, as put forward by the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland, except for one. The aspiring candidate needs to secure at least 1,500 signatures in support of the nomination. However, the campaigners could secure only around 300 of the 1,500 signatures, and with that, Snæfellsjökull will have to wait for the next ballot in 2028.

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