Iceland drafting new constitution using website, social media News
Iceland drafting new constitution using website, social media
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[JURIST] The government of Iceland [BBC backgrounder] is letting its general population help shape its new constitution through a number of new media formats, including the Constitutional Council website [in Icelandic], where new parts of the working draft [text, in Icelandic] are put on the site and rewritten to include public consensus. There are also Twitter and Facebook pages for comments, as well as a YouTube channel [official websites, in Icelandic] dedicated to the drafting process.

The Constitutional Council is eager to make sure the public can be up to date while the work is in progress. It’s possible to see the developments in the text of a prospective proposition and make comments. Furthermore, the Constitutional Council has made it possible for the public to send messages and already numerous messages have been sent to the Council. All messges are published on the Council’s website under the sender’s name (anonymous messages are not accepted) and the public can read and comment on each of them which has already created a lively discussion on the website. In this way the Constitutional Council emphasises an open communication with the Icelandic nation and has given the people an opportunity to participate in the formation of a new Constitution of the Republic of Iceland.

Last year, Iceland also picked 1,000 citizens, with 4,000 alternates, at random from the national registry to attend the National Conference on the Constitution [official website, in Icelandic]. The drafting project project began in April, and is to end in July when the new constitution will be put to popular referendum.

Iceland was hit hard [BBC backgrounder] by the financial crisis that emanated from securities related to the US mortgage market. When Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir [corporate websites] were taken over by the Icelandic government in 2008, they were holding debt equal to more than 900 percent [AFP report] of Iceland’s gross domestic product, causing the country’s economy to collapse and the government to rely on loans [IMF materials] from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [official website] to meet its obligations. Earlier this month, former Icelandic prime minister Geir Haarde [official profile, in Icelandic] pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to charges that he was grossly negligent for failing to stop the nation’s banking collapse during the 2008 financial crisis [JURIST news archive]. Last September, the Icelandic Parliament [official website, in Icelandic] referred charges to the Landsdomur after the SIC released a report claiming that seven Icelandic government officials acted with gross negligence in their management of the country’s financial system prior to a 2008 bank collapse. The SIC also found that former minister of finance Arni Mathiessen, then-banking minister Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, former Financial Services Authority [official website] director Jonas Jonsson and central bank officials Eirikur Gundason and Ingimundur Fridriksson failed to take appropriate action when presented with information about the poor state of the country’s financial sector.