From Iceland — Bill To Lower Voting Age In Iceland Unlikely To Pass In Time For Elections

Bill To Lower Voting Age In Iceland Unlikely To Pass In Time For Elections

Published March 26, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Heavy fillibustering prevented a bill to lower the voting age in municipal elections in Iceland from 18 to 16 from making it to a final vote in time for this spring’s elections. It may, however, become law at some point next year.

As reported, there was a broad base of support for the bill, with support across multiple parliamentary parties. Last Friday, the bill was up for the third and final discussion in Parliament, after which it would have been put to a final vote.

For a bill to become law in Iceland, it typically goes through three rounds of discussions before being put to a final vote. As can be seen on Parliament’s tracking of the bill, it was in this third and final round of discussions that suddenly many members of parliament had a lot to say. As the docket shows, it was primarily MPs for the Independence Party and the Centre Party who comprised the bulk of the four whole hours spents on discussions over the bill.

This filibustering blocked efforts to cast a final vote on the matter before the Easter holidays. As such, the possibility of being able to make this bill into law in time for this May’s municipal elections has been eliminated.

What makes the matter particularly surprising is that while the primary advocate for the bill is Andrés Ingi Jónsson, an MP for the Leftist-Greens, a good portion of the filibustering against the bill came from members of the Independence Party, who are in the ruling coalition that the Left-Greens lead. Independence Party MPs Brynjar Níelsson and Bergþór Ólason were particularly active in this effort. In other words, the ruling coalition effectively filibustered one of its own bills, underlining what many have pointed out is a persistent gap in terms of policy between the Left-Greens and the Independence Party, despite leading the government together.

This does not mean, however, that the bill is dead. It may still be voted on after the Easter holidays, even though some changes may be made to it before then. It will not, however, become law in time to go into effect for this May’s municipal elections.

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