Democratic Constitutional Design

The DCD (Democratic Constitutional Design) research project examines what lessons can be drawn from the Icelandic constitutional process 2009-2013 and seeks to apply these lessons in a theoretical framework studying democratic participation and civic engagement and democratic constitutional design in general. Special attention will also be paid to ongoing constitutional revision efforts. We will also work closely with the Prime Minister’s Office in monitoring the implementation of the current program to complete a revision of the constitution over two parliamentary terms, 2018-2025.

News

Has Covid-19 changed the terrain of engagement?

Liam O’Farrell considers the effects of Covid-19 on civic engagement: Will the pandemic make authorities more interested in digital public consultation? Given that Covid-19 has only recently become part of our lives, there has not yet been a systematic review of how organisations and governments have changed their approaches to engaging with the public in …

The Icelandic DCD podcast speaks to participants in the Deliberative meeting.

Who is ready to sit for a whole weekend to with 230 strangers and discuss amendments to the constitution? The Icelandic speaking branch of the DCD podcast has now released a new podcast series where Sævar Finnbogason interviews participants in the deliberative meeting on the constitution, held 8 to 9th November 2019. We wanted to …

Conference videos — Political Agency after Covid-19

The Political Agency after Covid-19 online conference was held on 15. May 2020 as the world is facing a pandemic that requires not only global effort but presents a trial of political leadership for governments around world. Each talk is around 40 minutes, including comments and discussion and they are listed here according to order …

The DCD Podcast

A podcast dedicated to the idea of constitutions as a forum for public engagement.

You can subscribe to the DCD Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or where you usually get your podcasts, or via our RSS feed.

Icelandic speakers might also want to check out our other podcast in Icleandic podcast called Lýðræðisleg stjórnarskrárgerð

8. Deliberative Poll on the Constitution of Iceland

Sævar Finnbogason talks to Jón Ólafsson and Valgerður Björk Pálsdóttir from the DCD research team about the lessons from the Deliberative Poll on the constitution of Iceland, convened by Icelandic Government, where 230 Randomly selected Icelanders participated in a productive Deliberative meeting.  Will the poll influence policy and will Althingi be able to agree on any changes to the constitution? Will the political reality in Iceland and opposition from supporters of the Constitutional Council bill from 2011 prevent changes from succeeding.   

7. Maija Setälä  (Part 2):
Participation and long-term decision-making 

Is participatory deliberative democracy suited for long term decision-making? Maija Setälä and her colleagues are currently working with our regional government in south-east Finland where the goal is to involve citizens in long term planning for the region. The deliberations involve working with future scenarios and different types of participation including a citizen assembly. Can randomly selected citizens come up with good long-term policies or is that something only elected representatives can do?

6. Maija Setälä  (Part 1):
Citizen Assemblies and Constitutional Change in Ireland.

Referendums raise questions about voters’ access to reliable information and considered arguments in this age of social media and polarization. In this episode Sævar Finnbogason talks to professor Maija Setälä from the University of Turku, about Citizens Review panels and citizens initiatives. Maija and her colleagues recently carried out an experiment with a citizen’s review panel in Finland, based on the Oregon Citizens’ initiative review  (CIR) model. 

5. David Farrell (Part 2):
Can Citizen Assemblies strengthen democracy?

Citizen Assemblies and Deliberative Polls on various issues have been conducted in many countries all over the world and there is also growing interest in other forms of Sortition mini-publics. In the second part of our talk with professor David Farrell we discuss this development and the promise it might hold for the future.

4. David Farrell (Part 1):
Citizen Assemblies and Constitutional Change in Ireland.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 Iceland and Ireland embarked on constructional revisions. In the episode Sævar Finnbogason talks to professor David Farrell about the main differences between the two countries approaches. David is the project leader for the Irish Citizen Assembly and has advised the Irish government on all three citizen assemblies held in Ireland.

3. Lawrence Lessig (Part 2):
They don’t represent us!

In the second part of our conversation Larry talks about his new book, The Don’t Represent Us, which looks at the reasons for the crisis of democracy in America (and much of the Western World). What can be done? It seems clear that solving these problems will require significant constitutional changes.

2. Lawrence Lessig (Part 1):
The Icelandic constitutional process

Lawrence Lessig is an academic, attorney, and political activist. He is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and well-known for his activism for net-neutrality and against Money In Politics We met with Lessig while he was in Iceland to give a talk on what the rest of the world can learn from the current crisis of democracy in America. In the first part of our talk we asked Larry why he became interested in the Icelandic constitutional process and what other Nations might learn from it.

1. Róbert Bjarnason CEO Citizens Foundation

Are online good deliberations and crowdsourcing on political issues possible? Seeing how things often work on Social Media it seems we need platforms designed specifically with that in mind. In the first episode of the DCD Podcast Jón Ólafsson speaks to Róbert Bjarnason from the Citizens Foundation, who have been designing software for online crowdsourcing and deliberations for a decade and is now facilitating online constitutional crowdsourcing in Iceland.

Episodes in Icelandic
(Lýðræðisleg stjórnarskrárgerð hlaðvarpið)

6. Rökræðufundurinn, stjórnmálin og nýja stjórnarskráin

Við lokum þessari þáttaröð með því að heyra ýmislegt áhugavert sem mínir sem þátttakendur í rökræðufundinum höfðu að segja, t.d. nýju stjórnarskrána, traust í garð stjórnmálanna og þátttöku almennings í lýðræðinu. Auk þess sem við reynum að lesa í og draga saman það sem fram hefur komið í þessum sex þáttum. 

5. Rökræðufundur og hvað svo?

Sævar Finnbogason ræðir við Valgerði Björk Pálsdóttur og Jón Ólafsson prófessor frá rannsóknarverkefninu um lýðræðislega stjórnarskrárgerð um sjónarmið þátttakenda og hvernig til tókst, líkurnar á því að takist að breyta stjórnarskránni, af hverju ekki var rætt um ákvæðið umnáttúruauðlindir á rökræðufundinum og hvort reynslan af þessari tilraun bendi til þess að rökræðukannanir virki í íslensku samhengi. 

Rökræðufundur: 4. Samráð verður að hafa áhrif

Hlaðvarpið ræðir við þátttakendur í rökræðufundinum um breytingar á stjórnarskránni um væntingar þeirra til þess hvort niðurstöður rökræðufundarins hafi einhver áhrif á fyrirhugaðar stjórnarskrárbreytingar og hvort að það hefur áhrif á vilja þeirra til að taka þátt í svipuðum hlutum í framtíðinni og til stjórnmálanna almennt. Það hvort að stjórnmálamennirnir hlusta fundinn hefur mikil áhrif, bæði á þátttökuvilja og viðhorf fólks til hefðbundinna stjórnmála almennt.

Rökræðufundur: 3. Hvernig breyttust skoðanir fólks?

230 Íslendingar sátu heila helgi og ræddu um breytingar á stjórnarskránni. Mikil umræða hefur um stjórnarskrána og frumvar Stjórnlagaráðs undanfarin ár og skiljanlega höfðu margir sterkar skoðanir fyrir. Þess vegna spurðum við þátttakendur á rökræðufundinum hvort þau skiptu um skoðun á einhverjum málefnum og ef þau skiptu ekki um skoðun hvort fólk taldi sig hafa betri forsendur fyrir skoðunum sínum eftir fundinn.

Rökræðufundurinn: 2. Samræður og sérfræðingar

Í þættinum ræðum við við þátttakendur í rökræðufundinum um stjórnarskrána um upplifun þeirra af því að sitja heila helgi og ræða við ókunnugt fólk um stjórnarskrárbreytingar? gegnu samræðurnar vel? Voru innlegg sérfræðingana sem fengnir voru til að svara spurningum þátttakenda gagnleg? Voru þeir óhlutdrægir? í fyrsta þættinum kynntumst við átta þátttakendum í rökræðufundinum og nú spyr Sævar Finnbogason þau þessu og því hvað kom þeim mest á óvart við fundinn.https://anchor.fm/lrisleg-stjrnarskrrger/embed/episodes/Rkrufundur-Samrur-og-srfringar-ejdn5p

Rökræðufundurinn: 1. Hvers vegna tók fólk þátt?

Hverskonar fólk er tilbúið til þess að sitja heila helgi frá morgni til kvölds að ræða við bláókunnugt fólk um stjórnarskrárbreytingar? 
Er það fyrst og fremst fólk sem er fyrir virkt í stjórnmálum eða bara fólk eins og þú og ég?Sævar Finnbogason ræðir við átta þátttakendur í rökræðufundinum á um stjórnarskrárbreytingar sem haldinn dagana 8 og 9 nóvember 2019. Í fyrsta þættinum í þessari fimm þátta röð kynnumst við viðmælendunum og heyrum frá þeim hverju þeirra hvers vegna þau samþykktu að taka þátt í rökræðufundinum þegar þau voru dregin út í slembivalinu.https://anchor.fm/lrisleg-stjrnarskrrger/embed/episodes/Rkrufundur-Hvers-vegna-tekur-flk-tt-ej2ikr

3. Þjóðfundurinn 2010 — seinni hluti: lærdómur til framtíðar?

Í þessum þætti ræðir Katrín Oddsdóttir við Lárus Ými Óskarsson, leikstjóra, og Bjarna Snæbjörn Jónsson, doktor í stjórnun og leiðtogafræðum, um stöðu og þróun lýðræðis meðal annars út frá íslenska stjórnarskrárferlinu

2. Þjóðfundurinn 2010 — fyrri hluti

Árið 2010 var haldinn þjóðfundur um þau gildi sem ættu að grundvalla nýja stjórnarskrá fyrir Ísland. Í þessum þætti ræðir Katrín Oddsdóttir við Lárus Ými Óskarsson og Bjarna Snæbjörn Jónsson, skipuleggjendur þjóðfundarins, um tilgang, aðferð og útkomu fundarins.

1. Björg Thorarensen ræðir um hvað einkennir góðar stjórnarskrár

Geta stjórnarskrár komið í veg fyrir spillingu? Hvað einkennir góðar  stjórnarskrár? Í þessum þætti ræðir Jón Ólafsson við Björgu Thorarensen  lagaprófessor, sem er einn þátttakenda í DCD rannsóknarverkefninu um  þessar spurningar og almennt um stjórnarskrár og  stjórnarskrárbreytingar

Deliberative Poll

Participants listen to experts answer their questions

This section is dedicated to an in-depth analysis of the discussions Deliberative Meeting that was a part of the Deliberative Poll on amendments to the Constitution of Iceland. The Deliberative meeting was held 8-9 November 2019. A detailed report and statistics with the results the Deliberative Poll are accessible on the Social Science Research Center website. But here, we want to to give a fuller overview of the discussions on each topic and highlight some of the discussions at the participants’ tables. This is to provide a more nuanced picture of how attitudes changed during these conversations among strangers in the Deliberative meeting.

Here you can read the overview on each of the main themes discussed at the meeting:

1. Should presidency be revised?
2. The Court of Impeachment and the Parliament’s power of indictment
3. Amending the Constitution
4. National Referendums and citizen Initiatives
5. Electoral Constituencies, Vote Weight and Ranked Voting
6. International Cooperation and the Transfer of Power

Photos from the meeting

What is a Deliberative Poll and what is a Deliberative Meeting?

The Deliberative Poll on the Constitution began in the summer of 2019 with a large general survey. People were asked about their views on several issues in the Icelandic Constitution that the government wants to revise during this electoral term. A random sample of the survey participants was then invited to join a deliberative meeting which took place in Reykjavík. 233 people participated in the meeting – about 10% of those who answered the survey questionnaire.

The deliberative meeting was held 9-10 November 2019. 27 groups of participants discussed the following issues: The Icelandic presidency,, the Parliament’s power to indict ministers and the Court of Impeachment, articles on how to amend the Constitution, national referendums and citizen initiatives, electoral constituencies and vote weight, and international cooperation.

At the beginning of the deliberative meeting participants were asked to answer a questionnaire on their views about the issues under consideration. They were also asked about their values and their political environment, and political participation. They were then split into groups for rounds of discussions with Q and A sessions with experts in between discussion rounds. At the end of day two, they then answered another questionnaire on the same topics as the one in the beginning of the meeting.

In some areas we did not see significant changes, but in others there were significant changes in opinion after the discussions. Views on the Icelandic presidency e.g. did not change much, but in other areas significant changes happened, such as on what the Constitution should say about the status of international agreements and about the Parliament’s power to indict ministers and the Court of Impeachment.

As interesting as the statistics about these changes are, it is even more interesting and important to understand why participants’ views changed (or not). What were the arguments made? Did people feel that they learned something new about the issues?

The Lýðræðisleg stjórnarskrárgerð podcast (in Icelandic) also interviewed participants. These interviews provided a unique insight into the discussions, why people participate in events like the Deliberative meeting, and what participants thought about the meeting and the discussions.

Constitutional revision in Iceland