Iceland’s ‘Facebook’ constitution closer to reality

Voters in Iceland have pushed their crowd-sourced constitution, which includes ideas from Facebook and Twitter, closer to approval. But will the experimental process get across the finish line?

Last week, a nonbinding national referendum was held about the nation’s proposed constitution, and voters overwhelmingly approved six proposals that will make up the core of a revised document.

The entire crowd-sourced document is online and contains 114 articles. The six articles proposed in the national vote were seen as the key measures needing parliamentary approval.

In three previous cases, voters have approved draft amendments that the nation’s parliament, the Althingi, felt obliged to implement.

In this case, political parties will need to work out an agreement among themselves, and then the language used by the Althingi has to be approved in a national binding referendum by voters. The language needs to be finalized by next spring’s elections.

About half of the nation’s voters took part in the referendum, with the group of articles getting “yes” votes by a two-thirds margin.

A group of 25 non-politicians formed a Constitutional Council and wrote the draft constitution, using suggestions from Facebook, Twitter, and other online sources as part of the process. The draft was finished in July.

The Iceland Review says that five of the six items in the referendum were proposed by the Constitutional Council. An additional item was added about approving a state church for Iceland.

Other items include the nationalization of Iceland’s natural resources, the direct election of parliament members, proportional voting for the electorate, and the right to approve any parliamentary changes to the constitution.

“We might say that we are on a trial period; the nation has put us to the test, whether we can complete this matter before the next election [in spring 2013],” said Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

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