From Iceland — Meet the Constitutional Assembly

Meet the Constitutional Assembly

Published December 1, 2010

As reported yesterday, the constitutional assembly election results have come in. But who are these people who plan to re-write Iceland’s constitution? The Grapevine provides a closer look.
The following is a list of assembly members, and translated snippets of their platforms:
Andrés Magnússon, doctor, Kópavogur. Believes that to write a constitution is to “put into words the justice of the people”. He also contends that “a democracy where one interest group (the wealthy) controls all the media is a joke democracy”. He would like to see the constitution prevent the wealthy from being able to consolidate their power over the people.
Ari Teitsson, farmer, Þingeyjasveit. His main goal is to “create the outlines for justice, welfare, and our vision for the future.” He also wants to create clearer rules on how Iceland deals with foreign business interests.
Arnfríður Guðmundsdóttir, professor, Kópavogur. Wants to create a constitution that is “built on equality and respect for the individual, regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, income level, religion or location in the country”. Also wants to protect Icelandic natural resources from being exploited.
Ástrós Gunnlaugsdóttir, student, Garðabær. Believes it “important that young people take an active part in writing the new constitution”. She wants to see term limits in parliament, a clearer division of the three pillars of government (executive, legislative and judicial), referendums on matters of special concern, and Icelandic natural resources owned by the public.
Dögg Harðardóttir, department manager, Akureyri. Wants to “stand guard by democracy, freedom of expression, and equality while protecting our Christian values and freedom of religion.” Also wants to see Icelandic natural resources in public ownership.
Eiríkur Bergmann Einarsson, professor at Bífröst. Says that the constitution needs to be re-examined from the ground up. Among his ideas would be greater transparency of the financial support politicians receive, to be able to vote directly for a prime minister, to increase the power of the referendum, and to make the country one voting district.
Erlingur Sigurðarson, secondary school teacher, Akureyri. Has as a goal to see a constitution that is “built on respect, the rights of man and his duties to society.”
Freyja Haraldsdóttir, director, Garðabær. Wants to see a constitution written “professionally and knowledgeably”, where individual human rights are made more clear.
Gísli Tryggvason, consumer spokesman, Kópavogur. Puts a great deal of emphasis on protecting Icelandic natural resources. Also, believes that a constitutional review should occur every 20 years.
Guðmundur Gunnarsson, chairman of the Electrical Workers Association, Reykjavík. Also wants to see natural resources in public ownership, and believes that more matters should be put up for public referendum.
Illugi Jökulsson, journalist, Reykjavík. Wants to eliminate corruption in the Icelandic government, and “give the people greater power over their elected officials”.
Inga Lind Karlsdóttir, journalist, Garðabær. Really wish I could say what she stands for, but nothing in her description actually says so – just that she wants to take part in writing the constitution, that that’s an important task, and she promises to do a good job.
Katrín Fjeldsted, doctor, Reykjavík. Believes that people have lost trust in Icelandic politicians, and so the constitution should give the people greater power to supervise elected officials.
Katrín Oddsdóttir, lawyer, Reykjavík. Wants to fight corruption in government, make sure that foreign companies cannot own Icelandic natural resources, and give people “greater access to government”.
Lýður Árnason, doctor, Hafnarfjörður. Again, wants to see Icelandic natural resources in public ownership.
Ómar Ragnarsson, journalist, Reykjavík. Among his ideas is to see that ministers are not also members of parliament, to increase the use of the public referendum, to protect natural resources and – curiously enough – the “combination of the office of the president and the prime minister into one”.
Pawel Bartoszek, political commentator, Reykjavík. Specifically wants to change the law with regards to election procedures and public referendums, as he believes that voters do not have enough direct power into government.
Pétur Gunnlaugsson, lawyer, Reykjavík. Also wants to increase the use of the public referendum, but also believes the law should not limit “freedom of expression and opinion in the media”.
Salvör Nordal, director of the Office of Ethics at the University of Iceland, Reykjavík. Wants to see a clearer separation of powers between the three pillars of government, and that government power should be limited.
Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, adjunct in political science, Reykjavík. Specifically wants to “insure the human rights of all, equalize class and sex, and a recognition of the unique place of minorities in our society”. Also wants to see natural resources in public ownership, and the separation of church and state.
Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson, director of CCP, Reykjavík. Believes that ministers for a particular ministry should have actual experience in the field. Would also like to see a more independent court system, greater transparency, and Iceland as one voting district.
Þorkell Helgason, political commentator, Álftanes. Puts great emphasis on the constitution being “a protector against corruption” in Icelandic society.
Þorvaldur Gylfason, professor, Reykjavík. Wants a clearer separation of powers between the three pillars of government, and would like to see bills put up for public referendum; even those that parliament has rejected. Also believes natural resources should be in public ownership, and that greater transparency in government is needed.
Þórhildur Þorleifsdóttir, theatre director, Reykjavík. Takes a feminist approach to the constitution, mentioning her experience in fighting for women’s rights. Also believes her current job will assist her in helping write a new constitution.
Örn Bárður Jónsson, parish priest, Reykjavík. This guy recently wrote an opinion piece in Fréttablaðið arguing in favour of church officials being able to preach in playschools and primary schools, arguing in part that people who aren’t Christian should “accept the fact that you are in a minority”. Says that he hopes to help write a new constitution that “shows respect for people of different opinions, colour, nationality, sex and religion.”

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