Yesterday parliament passed a measure that will put forward for public referendum some of the changes Iceland’s constitutional committee has proposed for a new constitution.
In the wake of the economic collapse of 2008, one of the more pressing demands that arose from the public was for a new constitution. After elections for a constitutional committee were declared invalid by the courts – prompting Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir to appoint the members instead – the group has worked on a number of areas of the constitution where they feel changes need to be made, often with transparency and the input of the public.
However, a new question arose in the process – whether to let the committee’s recommendations roll straight to the floor of parliament, or put them up for public referendum first. The matter has proven very contentious, but a multipartisan compromise was reached earlier this week, resulting in the approval of a public referendum proposal.
Eyjan reports that the final vote for the proposal was 35 to 15, and that while the exact date of the referendum has not been finalised, it is to happen no later than October 20.
The referendum will not be for every aspect of the proposed constitutional changes, though. Part of the compromise was an agreement over what matters to put before the public. These will be in areas related to the use of natural resources, the national church, balancing the power of ballots (as it relates to where in the country voters live) and even on the nature of public referendums themselves.