25. Mars.2013 – Constitutional society

SOS New Icelandic Constitution ….launches deputy and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee of the Parliament

Many in Iceland hope Parliament will adopt before the end of its term the new  constitution written by the citizens in the aftermath of the financial crisis. However, “politics as usual” game is stopping this project.

While the world looks to Iceland as an example of democratic ®evolution (power to citizens, now, here) things do not look so bright in Reykjavík.  It is the first time in 21st century that a country has tried to write a new constitution with a “grassroots” approach, bottom to top. It was the financial crisis that began five years ago which set this unusual project in motion. Two national fora were organized in 2009 and 2010 to participate in an experiment of deliberative democracy. One thousand citizens were invited to represent all of Iceland´s voices, values and decide future common project as a society.  Selection based on statistical  criteria ensured that people from various regions, men and women, old and young were all represented.

Then a constitutional assembly (later transformed into a counsel) was voted in a national referendum in 2010. 25 Icelandic citizens were selected by the voters from over 520 volunteers to write the new  Constitution. The final draft was ready after four months of work, approved unanimously and sent to the Parliament  on July 29, 2011. A  referendum  was held on 20 October 2012 where two-thirds of voters approved the constitutional draft. Further discussions followed within the Parliament, with suggestions from legal experts and the Venice Commission (Council of Europe). Ms. Valgerdur Bjarnadottir, deputy and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee, supervised all the work.

So far so good. The problem is that, in order for the new Constitution to come into effect, it must be adopted by both the sitting Parliament and the future Parliament. But some leaders of traditional political parties  have kidnapped the process. While a majority of deputies would vote yes, a shameful few block the whole process by refusing to agree on a date for the first vote.  Iceland is running out of time since Parliament must dissolve before next elections on 27 April 2013.

About the video: Every Saturday a support/demonstration is organized close to the site of Parliament. These Saturday demonstrations are organized as those held at the end of 2008 and early 2009 just after the economic collapse. Thanks to demonstrations,  the people of Iceland sent an “alleged” incompetent and corrupt government home and started a path towards a “new Iceland” through democratic reform.

Meeting at Ingólfstorg