From Iceland — Constitutional Committee Wants To Strengthen Checks And Balances

Constitutional Committee Wants To Strengthen Checks And Balances

Published May 27, 2011

The constitutional committee has put forward a proposal that would calibrate the checks and balances between the three branches of government, employing a radical change to the current system.
In Iceland, the prime minister is typically the chairperson of the largest party in the majority coalition – for example, the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens are the majority coalition, but Social Democrat chairperson Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is the prime minister – although there are exceptions, such as when Davíð Oddsson and Halldór Ásgrímsson switched places as prime minister and foreign minister in 2004.
Eyjan now reports that the constitutional committee would, if their proposal is accepted, have parliament as a whole vote for the new prime minister, who would then in turn appoint the ministers of government.
Katrín Fjeldsted and Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson, who sit on the constitutional committee, say that the purpose of the change would be to establish clearer lines between the executive and legislative branches of government. In addition, having a prime minister voted into power by a parliamentary majority would increase what they call “real democracy” in Iceland.
The constitutional committee has been proposing a number of changes to government recently. Just days ago, the committee recommended that a special supervisory committee be created to keep an eye on MPs and make sure their voting is not purely based on self-interest, and that members of parliament should not be allowed to hold any other form of employment while they are in office.

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