From Iceland — City Rejects Parliament's Charges

City Rejects Parliament’s Charges

Published January 9, 2014

Reykjavík City Council rejects charges from the Parliamentary Presidential Committee that the city is violating the constitution with plans to build a hotel on Austurvöllur.

In a statement (.pdf) for the city’s Environmental and Planning Committee, the city contends the Parliamentary Presidential Committee has neither the power nor the mandate to file charges of planning decisions.

The city points out furthermore that any kind of planning dispute that might possibly concern parliament needs to be debated and voted on by parliament itself – which has not happened. They conclude that the city’s building plans do not in any way show parliament or the country disrespect and that, under the committee’s reasoning, any work done downtown could be construed as a violation of the constitution.

As reported, the committee contends that city plans for the Kvosin district – a six-story hotel and a revamped NASA night club on the edge of Austurvöllur, the park in front of parliament – “shows disrespect for the Icelanders’ national parliament and the history of the country.”

Specifically, parliament believes Reykjavík has broken Article 36 of the constitution, which simply states, “Althingi is inviolate. No person may disturb its peace or violate its freedom.”

City council president Dagur B. Eggertsson dismissed the charges, saying, “Of course it’s a controversial matter. But I think it’s beneath parliament to do this and, to be honest, nothing indicates that those who wrote [the complaint] have familiarised themselves with the matter particularly well.”

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