News about ‘Democracy’ from Iceland
If Iceland demonstrates the possibilities of direct democracy, recent months have also exposed its limitations. A row still rages over the country’s constitution, which was created after its economic collapse. When 950 Icelanders, randomly chosen from the national register, gathered for one day in 2010 to decide its founding principles it was hailed as the world’s first “crowd-sourced” constitution.
A 25-member constitutional council drew up the constitution in four months – despite Iceland’s supreme court judging the election of the council void.
The draft was not without controversy: it stipulated that Iceland’s remaining unprivatised natural resources should remain in the hands of the state, a move unlikely to be supported by Iceland’s powerful fishing industry, and called for freedom of information and greater accountability for politicians.
Despite the fact that two-thirds of voters approved the document in a non-binding referendum in October 2012, the bill did not make it through parliament before it broke for elections, and several politicians told the Guardian it was unlikely to proceed in its current form.
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Interesting that Icelanders see the ownership of Natural Resources by the public, for the benefit of the public as a constitutional pre-requisite. Meanwhile in another snowy land, Alaska, the politics and democratic voice involved in the beneficial ownership of natural resources is laid out in a crystal-clear fashion.