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Iceland Citizens Vote in Favor of Crowdsourced Constitution

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, October 22 2012

Last Saturday, the citizens of Iceland voted in favor of the new Constitution, EurActiv reports. The bill was drafted thanks to a crowdsourced process that started a year and a half ago.

The first results showed that 66 percent of citizens participated to the non-binding vote (Iceland has about 235,000 eligible voters.)

On the ballot, citizens could answer “yes” or “no” to six questions, including the role of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as state church and the declaration of all non-privately owned natural resources as “national property” (the “yes” won with more than 80 percent votes.)

Back in June 2011, I wrote about the participation process that was in the making:

The “crowdsourcing body in charge” is a council of 25 members elected by popular vote from a field of 522 candidates over the age of 18 ... The council is basing its work on a 700-page report prepared by a committee that took into account the recommendations of the National Forum.

Recommendations need to be approved by local staff before being passed on to the council and posted online for discussion, but then, when approved by the council, they are added to the draft of the document.

The process gathered more than 1,600 ideas and comments. The resulting bill, consisting of 114 articles, was unanimously approved in late July 2011.

The process will be finished in the coming months, when the bill will be subject to a parliamentary debate and then to the final vote. EurActiv writes more on the next steps:

Valgerður Bjarnadóttir, who chairs the Icelandic Parliament's Administration and Supervision Committee, says a bill for a new Constitution could be ready within two weeks.

The bill would be presented to Parliament for debate before being put to a vote, a process she believes could be finished before the parliamentary elections in the spring. Voting on a new Constitution, she said, could be held alongside the elections.

Iceland's first Constitution, that dates back to 1944, is basically a slightly modified version of the Danish one, as the country used to be a colony of Denmark.