From Iceland — Years Later, Constitution Draft Still In Committee

Years Later, Constitution Draft Still In Committee

Published November 3, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
TommyBee/Wikimedia Commons

Proposed changes to Iceland’s constitution, a major issue brought up in the wake of the 2009 protests, have still not made it out of committee.

RÚV reports that members of the parliamentary Constitutional Committee have still not been able to reach an agreement on four proposed provisions to Iceland’s constitution. The aim has been to reach an agreement before the end of the year, with the changes put up for national referendum next summer, but it is still uncertain if this will happen.

Representatives from every political party have been working on proposed constitutional provisions that would cover national referendums initiated by a decisive number of petitioned signatures, the transference of power due to international cooperation, natural resources and environmental protections. While the aim had been to submit a draft on these provisions in the beginning of the winter, with a referendum on the matter initiated alongside presidential elections in late June of next year, that aim is becoming increasingly unlikely to be attained.

Committee chairperson Páll Þórhallsson told reporters that while the timeframe to submit a proposal to parliament has shrunk more than expected, he remains optimistic.

“Now my top priority as chairperson is to encourage the committee to complete its task and submit a proposal,” he said. “Then party leaders will take over, and assess the situation.”

The prospect of a new constitution received widespread public support and made international headlines in the wake of the 2009 protests, with the formation of a National Assembly that year tasked with receiving direct suggestions from the people on what kind of changes the country wanted to see.

This, in turn, led to the elections of a Constitutional Assembly in 2010. While these elections were ruled invalid by the Supreme Court in 2011 on the grounds of numerous election irregularities, the 25 people elected to the assembly were later appointed by then-Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

While this would lead to the Constitutional Committee submitting a draft for a new constitution that summer, and a national referendum on the matter in 2012 voted in favour of these changes, the matter has still not been resolved.


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