A petition calling for major fishing quota laws to be put up for referendum will soon conclude, and will then go to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.
The petition, Þjóðareign (“National Resource”), has concluded with just over 51,000 signatures – about 21% of registered voters in Iceland. On midnight Thursday, Kjarninn reports, the petition will conclude, and be handed over to the president.
Þjóðareign is directed at the president, imploring the following:
“We, the undersigned, call on the President of Iceland to refer to a referendum any laws that parliament adopts where fishing resources are allocated for more than one year, while no provision for public ownership of resources has been set in the Constitution and the people have not be guaranteed full charge for their use.”
According to Icelandic law, once parliament passes legislation, only the president’s signature will make it a law. If the president refuses to sign it, it is referred to public referendum, unless parliament opts to simply withdraw the legislation altogether.
Ólafur Ragnar has referred legislation to referendum before – in particular, the wildly unpopular Icesave legislation, which ended up defeated in the ensuing referendum. However, in 2013, a petition of some 35,000 signatures calling on the president to refuse to sign a law that lowered taxes for fishing corporations went ignored, with the president telling reporters at the time that “tax issues should not be a matter of public referendum”.
Bear in mind, though, that the year previous, the president said that “few topics were better suited for a public referendum” than the quota system.