From Iceland — President Sees No Need To Change The Constitution

President Sees No Need To Change The Constitution

Published July 3, 2012

Two days after being re-elected, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson told reporters that he does not feel the constitution needs to be changed. A political scientist said the president’s remarks are based on his misconceptions.
RÚV reports that when asked for his opinion on an upcoming constitution referendum this fall, the president responded, “There is no sense in changing the constitution in itself, with heated conflicts and disputes. The roots of this new constitution lie in trying to create harmony among the people. This conflict does not reflect any harmony.”
Political scientist Eiríkur Bergmann Einarsson told DV that he found the president’s remarks “peculiar”, explaining, “I don’t know if anyone [working on the new constitution] has engaged in any heated conflicts and disputes. At least, that’s not the process going on now. He must be talking about something else.”
One of the points Ólafur raised about the possibility of a new constitution is that, with parliamentary elections coming up in the spring, a new constitution could create a great deal of uncertainty with regards to what bodies of government have which powers. Here, Eiríkur also disagrees, saying that the definitions of power of all aspects of government are actually more clear in the constitutional draft than in the constitution we have now.
Ólafur’s objections may be related to changes to the office of the presidency proposed in the constitutional draft (.pdf file). The current draft would limit the number of terms a president could serve to three (Article 79), and Ólafur is beginning his fifth term. The new constitution also proposes that the president can be criminally charged with the consent of parliament (Article 84).

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