Around 10,000 Demand A New Constitution

Around 10,000 Demand A New Constitution

Published August 12, 2020

Nico Borbely
Photo by
Julia Staples

A petition on behalf of the Women’s Association for a New Constitution demands that the Icelandic parliament legislate a new constitution has garnered around 10,400 signatures, Vísir reports. According to Katrín Oddsdóttir, one of those collecting the signatures, around 500 to 1,000 new signatures have been added every day over the past few days.

“It still hasn’t been publicised very much as the people who are doing this work have no money, but what’s really beautiful about this is that discussion on this topic is spreading to an unprecedented extent, and these are all real and demonstrable signatures, as people have to register with an electronic ID in order to sign the petition,” says Katrín in an interview with Vísir.

These electronic signatures can, however, cause problems in spite of their security, as some people have had issues with registration. “This shows, however, that there is a lot of demand for this change and people care about making their voices heard on this matter.”

The petition will be open until October 19th, and will be delivered on October 20th, marking eight years since the referendum on the new constitution. A majority of people voted for a new constitution, but nearly eight years later it is still not in evidence. “We wanted to commemorate this occasion, which is a sad one in that the demands that it represent did not go fulfilled.”

The goal of this petition is to highlight that it is not possible or just for the Parliament to hold a referendum and then completely ignore its results at its convenience. “We see election after election that the Parliament is not preparing the new constitution as it should based on the results of this referendum,” says Katrín.

“We must fight for real democracy in this country, and for elections not to be held unless the intent is to honor and respect their results,” she continues. “No one would imagine that the results of a parliamentary election would be blatantly ignored. This is just as serious.”

Ignoring the will of the people

It is time for a new constitution to enter into effect, as the old one is no longer suitable. “We’re saddled with the old Danish constitution from the founding of the republic and is not suitable for a modern society.”

“We need to ensure the provision of resources and the protection of journalists and whistleblowers, as current events clearly show. Of course, we also need more decisive policies to protect the environment, as well as direct democracy and elections. These are hugely important reforms for society that cannot be put off any further, and the parliament seems incapable of delivering on them,” says Katrín.

According to Katrín the goal is to get 25,000 signatures before the list is submitted, which would be around 10% of Icelandic voters. “If the new constitution had taken effect, it would be enough to present a bill to the parliament, and we want to make it clear that the democratic will of the people is being ignored by not legislating this new constitution.”

As reported, around 55% of those polled in late 2017 “consider[ed] a new constitution being ratified during the next parliamentary term to be either very important or rather important.” Voters for the Pirates, Social Democrats, and Left-Greens all overwhelmingly supported the legislation of a new constitution, while voters for the Independence, Progressive, and Reform Parties were all largely against it.

The petition can be accessed here.

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