Icelandic Politicians Ignore Crowdsourced Constitution; Pirate Party Rejoices

from the we-know-what-happens-next dept

Techdirt has been following the fascinating saga of Iceland's crowdsourced constitution for nearly two years. Back in October 2012, we noted that Icelandic citizens gave it a pretty big thumbs up. Reflecting that, it really looked like Iceland's parliament might pass the associated bill, and go down in the history books for this bold re-invention of itself.

But the politicians have just put a stop to that, as Thorvaldur Gylfason explains on his blog:

32 out of 63 members of parliament were induced by an e-mail campaign organized by ordinary citizens to declare that they supported the bill and wanted to adopt it now. Despite these public declarations, however, the bill was not brought to a vote in the parliament, a heinous betrayal -- and probably also an illegal act committed with impunity by the president of the parliament. Rather, the parliament decided to disrespect its own publicly declared will as well as the popular will as expressed in the national referendum by putting the bill on ice and, to add insult to injury, hastily requiring 2/3 of parliament plus 40% of the popular vote to approve any change in the constitution in the next parliament, meaning that at least 80% voter turnout would be required for a constitutional reform to be accepted in the next session of parliament.
In other words, not content with simply ignoring the will of the people to adopt this crowdsourced constitution, the Icelandic politicians have now made it even harder to bring in something in the future.

By a happy coincidence, a new Pirate Party has been formed in Iceland, and is already doing quite well given its recent formation, as Rick Falkvinge explains:

The poll gives the Icelandic Píratar 5.6% of the votes, translating to four seats in the Icelandic Parliament. This growth is nothing short of phenomenal, even within the Pirate Party movement, and it would seem that the Icelandic pirates will be the first to put people in a regular, proportional, national-level parliament. (Sweden was first with the European Parliament, Germany was first with state-level parliament, and the Czech pirates were first with a senator.)
As we've seen elsewhere, there's nothing like a little outrageous behavior from mainstream politicians to drive voters into the arms of the Pirates, so Falkvinge's understandably optimistic predictions may well turn out to be true. Let's hope so, if only as a punishment for the contempt shown by the Icelandic parliament for its people.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    The dude, Apr 5th, 2013 @ 8:06pm

    Excellent!
    There is nothing better to motivate people to seek change than politicians being themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2013 @ 9:02pm

    "hastily requiring 2/3 of parliament plus 40% of the popular vote to approve any change in the constitution in the next parliament,"

    Um. What kind of messed up constitution do they have, that one parliament can change the requirements for a future parliament to change the constitution (without passing a constitutional amendment themselves)? If that's really how things work, I can see how they want a new one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    ReallyEvilCanine (profile), Apr 6th, 2013 @ 12:18am

    Pirate Party?

    I wonder if Reykjavk's Mayor Jn Gnarr and his Best Party will either get directly involved in Iceland's national politics or support/endorse the Pirates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    ReallyEvilCanine (profile), Apr 6th, 2013 @ 12:25am

    Don't throw stones inside your glass house

    To propose amendments to the US constitution, a joint resolution from the House and Senate must pass with a two-thirds supermajority in each.

    To ratify an amendment, three-fourths of the state legislatures must approve it.

    And that's not touching the House & Senate rules which prevent most minority ( total members - 1) attempts to legislate, rules which can be changed pretty much at the Speakers' whims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2013 @ 5:58am

    At first the pirate party was just a joke.

    Then it became a small group of people across the globe.

    After that we saw some minor local wins which to high up players it meant nothing.

    They continued to win a little more each victory making them stronger.

    Now they're getting to the point where they're a threat to decision makers jobs.

    Next they'll be the decision makers with a majority rule in one country first, and it will spread like wildfire.

    The people are going to take back the power it's just a matter of time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    Re: Don't throw stones inside your glass house

    FYI, Glyn Moody is British.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 6th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Re: Don't throw stones inside your glass house

    Actually, you can get away with an amendment without the Congress, just so long as you can get 3/4ths of the states to go along with it.

    It's just easier (and that should tell you something) to get an amendment passed if it goes through Congress first.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Shon Gale (profile), Apr 6th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Their Politicians sound exactly like Republicans.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    dkc3 (profile), Apr 6th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Republicans? As if any political party Democrat, Green, Communist, Socialist, or Tea would be any different? ALL political parties and large organizations (more than just political) are all about power and self preservation.

    Protecting the rights of the minorities is what a good constitution should be about and that is not easy to establish or maintain in our world.

    Seems as though technology often develops the means for individuals to battle the large organizations - only to see the large organizations gain control of the very same technology and eventually use it against the individuals.

    Rinse and repeat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Don't throw stones inside your glass house

    No. The states can pass it FIRST, but Congress needs to also approve it.

    And amendments SHOULD be hard to pass. Can you imagine the Constitution changing every time one party gets a majority?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Violated (profile), Apr 6th, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Don't throw stones inside your glass house

    Yes and if states wish to by-pass Congress they have to get their act together and to do so within the same month.

    Most states have tried before on matters that they strongly object to but they were just never organized enough to even come close to the 3/4ths needed.

    It may be possible to achieve by reminding each state the matters it did want to take up. Then to set a day where all states choose to by-pass Congress. Should the 75% level be reached then Congress no long has a say on the matter.

    Each state can then send their experts to the neutral gathering point such as in Canada. They can then spend weeks or months debating how the Constitution and Bill of Rights can be changed. I would most like to see Government commercial corruption removed.

    Once the amendments have been approved by large majority these states should all makes this as official as they can by putting these changes to the democratic vote of the people.

    Should the people agree then the changes are passed into law and the Government is reformed under the new laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    The people voted for these "representatives", unless Iceland's parliament gestated there spontaneously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Don't throw stones inside your glass house

    Once again. Congress still needs to pass an amendment, even if the states pass it first. You cannot "bypass Congress" when passing an amendment. Please read Article VI carefully.

    Unless you're talking about changing the Constitution without going through the Constitution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 8th, 2013 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    That.

    While the number 5,6% seems awesome I'll bet it'll be at least twice that. Give it some time and proper marketing from the Pirate Party.

    They gave a big middle finger to the people. We can expect the same behavior towards them from the voters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anon-y-mouse, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 7:31am

    Coming late to the party, but no, Congressional approval is not required to amend the Constitution; and article VI has no relevance; you want article V. Which says 2/3 of the states can call a constitutional convention, whose amendments will be valid when ratified by 3/4 of the states, Congress be damned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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