Crowdsourcing Iceland's Constitution: A zest of real democracy
- Wednesday, 31 August 2011 16:43
The Wisdom of Crowds
Last month I wrote about Iceland's remarkable crowdsourcing initiative to draft its new constitution, designed to involve all citizens regardless of their age, sex or race. We are incredibly pleased that such progressive and democratic initiatives are finally emerging - and even more so when they are recognized for their success. I feel that it really sends a powerful message to the world about the importance of bottom-up, inclusive and transparent governance processes, and it should serve as a model for all democracies around the globe on how to propel democracy scores.
In fact, as you can read on the Constitutional Council's website, the bill is now ready, and the Icelandic population will have to approve it through a referendum.
The main themes that the Constitutional Council observed during its work have been these three: distribution of power, transparency and responsibility.
"The Council has strived to increase the distribution of power with a clearer division between the three branches of power. Furthermore it provides for an increased public participation in decision-making, also leading to further distribution of power. The Council put much emphasis on a clear and intelligible presentation of the constitution, regarding the wording and overall structure, as well as making it clear who has power according to the constitution and as a consquence responsibility."
People's participation was crucial and the committee's website (in Icelandic and English) became an incubator for comments, with more than 1,600 propositions and comments on the suggested text. According to Yahoo News:
Katrin Oddsdottir, a lawyer who had shared her experience on the committee through micro-blogging site Twitter, said she believed the public's input was "what mattered the most" in preparing the draft."What I learned is that people can be trusted. We put all our things online and attempted to read, listen and understand and I think that made the biggest difference in our job and made our work so so so much better," she said.
The draft will be examined by a Parliamentary Committee starting next October 1st.
Source: Personal Democracy Forum