The main conclusions from the National Forum 2010

07.11.2010 21:59
The main conclusions from the National Forum 2010

The conclusions reflect what participants wish to see form the basis of Iceland's new constitution.

Lesa meira

National Forum a great success!

07.11.2010 18:26

Around 950 people participated in the event, and some 200 worked behind the scenes to ensure a smooth execution.

Lesa meira

Oldest woman and youngest man together at a table

06.11.2010 15:04
Oldest woman and youngest man together at a table

The oldest woman taking part in the National Assembly today is Ingibjörg Tönsberg, who is 89. Coincidentally she sits at a table with the youngest man taking part in the assembly - Andri Kristmundsson, who is 18.

Lesa meira

The main conclusions from the National Forum

COUNTRY AND NATION – Values and related issues regarding the independence of the country, culture and its advantages such as vision, the value of the Icelandic language and the country’s rural areas. The constitution is a covenant which guarantees sovereignty and independence for Icelanders and is written for the people in the country. The role of the constitution is to guard the Icelandic language, its culture and the nation’s resources. It should be introduced in schools and it must be guaranteed that the public can have a say in decisions regarding national affairs. The image of Iceland shall be strengthened, multiculturalism encouraged as well as separation between state and religion.

MORALITY – General moral values without special connection with government or politics such as honesty, respect, responsibility, tolerance, justice and sympathy. The constitution shall be based on moral values. The morality theme of the new constitution shall be respect for humans, freedom of speech and consideration. An emphasis shall be on the honesty of elected representatives, public officials, laws and legal ethics. To strengthen and improve the morality of the nation, ethics should be taught in the country’s schools and the social responsibility of the public must be increased. In Iceland a clear framework must be set up by which the authorities must work, focusing on respect, responsibility and duties towards the country's people.

HUMAN RIGHTS – Values that are the basis or go hand in hand with accepted human rights such as equality, freedom of speech, education, religious freedom and right of ownership. Everyone shall enjoy human rights according to international covenants on human rights that Iceland has promised to honour, such as freedom of speech, personal privacy, religious freedom and the right of ownership. Equality shall be guaranteed by law regardless of gender, religion, nationality, race, residence and sexual orientation. Everyone shall have the same opportunity for education, health care and minimum essentials of living. Each vote shall have equal value.

JUSTICE, WELLBEING AND EQUALITY – Values and related issues regarding general justice, wellbeing and equality in relation to education, health and essentials of living etc. All persons in the country shall be guaranteed a decent livelihood regardless of gender, race, age, residence, work, nationality, religious belief, financial situation, handicap, sexual orientation or opinions. Everyone shall have equal right to minimum essentials of living, education, health care and social service. Everyone shall have rights to pension benefits. The value of votes shall be equal and the penal code clear.

THE NATURE OF ICELAND, CONSERVATION AND UTILISATION – Values and related issues regarding the environment, including natural resources, such as conservation of the environment and public property. The nature and the country’s natural resources are unassignable public properties that must be protected, used and utilised sustainably in such a way that public access is guaranteed. Clear laws must be enacted regarding the nation’s ownership and utilisation rights of natural resources, nature and biosphere. Icelandic nature and resources must be protected to the benefit of future generations.

DEMOCRACY – Values and related issues of any kind relating to the nation’s participation in governing the country, such as referendum and voting rights. Also values related to prerequisites for democracy, such as communication of information. Iceland’s democracy shall be active and transparent. The value of votes shall be equal in one constituency, elections of individual candidates, limited time of membership of parliament and fewer members of parliament. The democracy shall be based on the triple division of power and clear laws on referendum in important issues. The appointment of judges shall be reconsidered, only voters with equal voting value can amend the constitution.

DIVISION OF POWER, RESPONSIBILITY AND TRANSPARENCY – Values and related issues regarding general development of the state and the use of state authority such as division of power, transparency and stability. Also values (and related issues) regarding the work of individual institutions and the holders of state authority and their responsibility. The triple division of power must be guaranteed where the role and responsibility of the authorities is clear. Ministers shall not serve as members of parliament along with their ministry post. The constitution should guarantee transparency and supervision of the country’s administration. Professional methods shall be used when recruiting people for the administrational positions. The power of the President of Iceland shall be reconsidered and a decision shall be made regarding his veto. There should be a time limit to the membership of parliament. The independence of the courts shall be guaranteed.

PEACE AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION – Values and related issues regarding Iceland’s position in the international community, such as security, peace and impartiality. Iceland shall be an independent and sovereign state which emphasises cooperation with other nations, especially in northern regions. Iceland shall be an advocate of peace and shall engage in international cooperation with that purpose. The security of the country shall be guaranteed. Iceland shall participate in cooperation in protecting nature, self-sustaining use of natural resources, protection of human rights and development aid. Iceland shall be without an army and free of nuclear arms.

The National Forum

The Act on a Constitutional Assembly no. 90/2010 passed by Althingi on 16 June 2010 stated that a National Forum of approximately one thousand people should be held in good time before elections to the Constitutional Assembly. Those thousand people should be selected by means of random sampling from the National Population Register, with due regard to a reasonable distribution of participants across the country and an equal division between genders, to the extent possible. The sample shall be restricted to persons who have the right to vote in the election to the Constitutional Assembly and who are domiciled in Iceland. The National Forum shall endeavour to call for the principal viewpoints and points of emphasis of the public concerning the organisation of the country’s government and its constitution; the Constitutional Committee shall process the information collected at the National Gathering and deliver to the Constitutional Assembly when it convenes.

On the entry into force of this Act, the Presidium of the Althingi appointed a Preparatory Committee of three members to prepare for the establishment and work of the Assembly and to make preparations for a National Forum and the committee shall then appoint a secretary general. The committee shall prepare the presentation of the work of the Assembly and set up its website, secure premises for the Assembly and prepare the appointment of staff for the Assembly. Furthermore, the Committee shall begin the work of gathering material in preparation for the proposals to be made by the Constitutional Assembly.

On the passing of this Act, the Althingi also appointed a Constitutional Committee of seven members; the committee shall work independently. The committee will have the role of preparing and organising the mentioned National Forum on constitutional matters. The committee shall also undertake the collection and processing of available material and information relating to constitutional matters which could be useful to the Constitutional Assembly and furthermore present ideas on amendments to the Constitution when the Assembly convenes. The format and the discussion process of the National Gathering is partly based on the experience which was acquired during a similar gathering last year, so similar structure will be used, but this time the subject for discussion is the content of the Constitution of the Republic.

The Constitutional Assembly

According to the above Act on a Constitutional Assembly, a special Constitutional Assembly shall be a gathering for the purpose of reviewing the Constitution of the Republic, no. 33 of 17 June 1944. The Assembly shall be composed of a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 31 delegates and they shall be elected by direct personal election. The Assembly shall convene no later than 15 February 2011 and conclude its work on 15 April 2011.The Constitutional Assembly is permitted to submit a request to the Althingi for the duration of the Assembly to be extended by a parliamentary resolution by up to two months.

The Assembly is to prepare a proposal for a revised Constitution of the Republic and when the Assembly has passed the constitutional bill, it shall be sent to the Althingi for process.

The Act on a Constitutional Assembly

As mentioned before Althingi passed a new law, The Act on a Constitutional Assembly no. 90/2010 on 16 June 2010 in which a consultative Constitutional Assembly is summoned for the purpose of reviewing the Constitution of the Republic, no. 33 of 17 June 1944. The law in English can be seen here (PDF).

The elections to the Constitutional Assembly

The elections to the Constitutional Assembly will take place on 27 November 2010. Persons who qualify to stand for elections to the Althingi may stand for election to the Constitutional Assembly. However, the President of the Republic of Iceland, members of parliament, their alternates, cabinet ministers and members of the Constitutional Commission and the Organising Committee are not eligible to stand for the election. Further information on the election process is on the website of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. The Ministry shall prepare presentation material on candidates. The presentation material shall be distributed to all households in Iceland. The presentation material shall also be published on a website maintained by the Ministry.

A copy of a ballot, identified as a specimen ballot, shall be distributed to all voters in Iceland together with an explanation of the procedure of the voting. The specimen ballot shall also be published on a website maintained by the Ministry, together with explanatory notes. Voters may take the specimen ballot with them into the voting booth.

Links to documents in English:

1. The Constitution of the Republic, no. 33 of 17 June 1944

2. The Act on a Constitutional Assembly no. 90/2010 (PDF)