Icelanders may be asked to vote on new constitution

The chairman of the Icelandic parliament’s constitutional and supervisory committee has said she thinks it is not unlikely  that the country’s proposed new constitution will be put to a national referendum.

The chairman says that her committee will likely finish discussing the constitutional council’s ideas in February and told RÚV she does not see it as unlikely that a majority of the committee will be in favour of a referendum.

The Alþingi constitutional and surveillance committee has been working through the constitutional council’s ideas for a new constitution since the autumn and chairman Valgerður Bjarnadóttir says that the work is going well.

The committee has received around 70 written remarks and some 200 requests for the constitutional council’s proposals to be sent unchanged to a referendum. Valgerður says that that idea has been discussed several times by the committee members. She says it is possible the committee will schedule the referendum to go ahead at the same time as this year’s planned presidential election.

“Yes, I don’t find that unlikely, but I cannot judge for others, but I don’t think it unlikely that there will be a majority in favour of that on the committee,” Valgerður said.

The constitutional council’s recommendations are in 114 articles and it is not clear whether voters would be asked for their opinion on all of them at the same time, or if they would be asked about each individually.

If the constitutional referendum is to go ahead with the presidential election at the end of June, Alþingi must pass a bill to authorise the plebiscite before the end of March. The results of the referendum would presumably shape the draft new constitution document; but that document itself will not be put before Alþingi for debate and voting until this autumn at the earliest.

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