Iceland Solicits Online Input from Citizens for New Constitution

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Undoubtedly, re-penning the law of the land is a fairly considerable task. But keep in mind that it’s no longer the age of quills and parchment paper. So what’s a country to do in these high-tech times?

Simple: Follow Iceland’s lead.

The European island country is, like any good non-dictatorship, turning to its people for some online input, reports the Associated Press. In the wake of an economic crisis, the 25 members of Iceland’s council are overhauling the constitution and appealing to citizens for suggestions for improvement through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. This makes sense, considering two-thirds of its citizens are online.

Most of the discussions will take place via Facebook, says Berghildur Bernhardsdottir, spokeswoman for the project.

So clearly this country of 320,000 is embracing the times. But what was wrong with the constitution in the first place?

That answer, history buffs, stems from the country’s past with Denmark, from which it gained independence in 1944. Rather than creating its own framework for governance, Iceland took the Danish constitution, made some tweaks, and – voila! – called it its own.

Since that fateful day, a thorough review of the constitution has been on the agenda, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Icelanders decided they’d had enough. The economic disaster caused commercial banks to collapse, its currency to plummet and protesters to take issue with the government. But now, the council members are looking to appease the population.

The country’s Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, says it’s possible that the people will vote on the draft constitution in a referendum before the parliament approves it officially. So far, some recommendations from citizens have included improving the treatment of livestock and making it easier for authorities to seize stolen property.

Can we get a Facebook “Like” for that?

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