The Constitution of Iceland will be reviewed during this electoral period in collaboration with all parties in parliament, according to the Prime Minister’s plan, in a comprehensive public consultation. The Democratic Constitutional Democracy Project, which is funded by Rannís, and the Social Sciences Institute of the University of Iceland, is conducting a strategic debate, as part of the public consultation, and in addition, the Highways Initiative for Open Consultation is in collaboration with Ibi Co-operation.
The consultation is based on the clear will of the public that has been prominent over the last 11 years – from the collapse – that ordinary citizens should be more involved in community policy. The University and the residents want to contribute to making this new process both effective and credible and give everyone the opportunity to have their voice heard, as the government has committed to listening to the public in this new issue to revise the Constitution.
Debate is a method to deepen a study of the public’s views from what traditional opinion polls offer. Participants in the opinion poll are therefore not available after answering questions, but are invited to participate in a discussion meeting which discusses the topics of the opinion poll. At the end of the discussion, a new survey is made which can be compared with the original opinion poll. Then it is often found that people’s attitudes change when they have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with and talk to others, especially those who have different opinions. Such changes are what debates are focused on.
The Social Sciences Institute completed the first part of a debate, an opinion poll, this summer. The second part, the discussion meeting, will be held 9-10. November, involving about 300 people from all over the country.
The Highways Project and Residents – Consultation Democracy ses. have, in addition to a logical survey, designed a platform on the Better Iceland website that allows open consultation on the elements of the constitution which is intended to change during this electoral period. Most people suggest that Icelanders agree more than disagree about most that need to be reviewed, but there is much to debate and find ideas for the best implementation. The consultation platform is designed with a view to being easy to present and support clear and clear arguments. In doing so, we advance the public’s intuition and knowledge, while reducing the risk of contentious jitters and bullying. Better Iceland has many years of experience in the management of democratic debates and has designed software that supports thoughtful and substantive discussion.
Jón Ólafsson, professor and leader of the high-level project, says that many people have been angered by how the work of the Constitutional Council went down in the sand with the support of the parliament, which never voted on the council’s bill. “There is little doubt, however, that the work and public debate that took place at the time has shaped the nation’s understanding of the most important constitutional changes. None of what is being addressed in this process is contrary to the proposals of the Constitutional Council and discussion of these issues is still strongly influenced by the Council’s work, ”says Jón.
In the Prime Minister’s Memorandum submitted in January 2018, the revision of the Constitution is divided into two parts. During this electoral period, seven aspects are addressed: the presidential office, natural resources and the environment, provisions on amendments to the constitution, delegation of powers for international cooperation, referendums and national elections, constituency and voting. All of these issues are being discussed on Better Iceland’s consultation web.