Crowdsourcing the constitution to unify Iceland

As part of my master’s degree in Digital Culture and Society I wrote an essay in January about “how the use of media technologies can help strengthen the feeling of community of the Icelandic People in the process of crowdsourcing their constitution”.

Though I don’t believe the (flawless) solution to modern democratic governing is involving the public in every process, in my opinion the risk of peer pressure is overwhelming, I do admire how well thought through and thorough the Icelandic crowdsourcing project was.

Therefor I was sad to read how the Icelandic government this week overturned the publics desire for change and thereby risk to damage the public believe in democracy for many decades to come.

If you want to read more, you can find my essay here: Crowdsourcing the constitution to unify Iceland

A bit of background

Post the financial collapse in 2008 the Icelandic people went to the streets banging on pots and pans demanding government to step down and a new constitution to be written, securing transparency in both government and the financial system, declaring non-privately owned national resources as national property as well as modernising the voting system.

As a result the government willingly stepped down and subsequently, to re-establish trust in the democratic system post the collapse, they chose to crowdsource the new constitution.

Much have been written about the process, most significantly the reports written by Professor of Economics Thorvaldur Gylfason available here:

Constitutions: Financial Crisis Can Lead to Change 
From Collapse to Constitution: The Case of Iceland 

Following the Icelandic people backed the proposal (66% voted for the new constitution, turnout was 49% of Iceland’s 235,000 eligible voters).  But apparently this didn’t proof anything for parliament, as they this Wednesday decided to postpone the decision of a new constitution and complicate the process of the decision further by raising the number of votes needed to confirm it by referendum.