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Icelanders vote in world's first 'crowdsourced constitution'

The world's first 'crowdsourced constitution' includes ideas sent via Twitter

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2012, 3:28am

Icelanders backed proposals for a new basic law, preliminary results showed yesterday, after a referendum on what has been dubbed the world's first "crowdsourced constitution".

Turnout was estimated at less than 50 per cent amid voter fears that the results of the non-binding referendum would be ignored by the small Nordic country's politicians.

The proposed new basic law for the island nation was drafted by 25 citizens with the help of hundreds of others who weighed in on social-media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

On Saturday, the committee put six constitution-related questions to voters in a referendum, to be answered "yes" or "no".

Voters were asked whether they want the proposals to form the basis of a draft constitution. After ballots in half the constituencies had been counted, two-thirds of voters had answered that question in the affirmative, data from the country's election committees compiled by public broadcaster RUV showed.

Other questions included topics such as the country's natural resources and the role of its national church. Results indicated that voters want to keep the country's national church and think natural resources that are not privately owned should be considered public property.

"Those of us who have hoped for a better society, woke up happy this morning," said Gudmundur Gunnarsson, a member of the constitutional council who is also the father of singer Björk.

Iceland's population is just over 300,000, but the complexity of the ballots means they are being counted manually, and official results were not expected until late yesterday.

Iceland's financial collapse in 2008 during the global economic crisis provoked huge social movements, and the demand that any new constitution be drawn up by ordinary citizens became irresistible.

Voter turnout is reported to have been around 49 per cent, less than the 72.9 per cent who voted last year, when Icelanders for the second time decided whether to approve a deal to compensate Britain and The Netherlands for the 2008 collapse of Icesave bank.

Still, the results were hailed yesterday by the mayor of Reykjavik, who is also deputy leader of the Social Democratic Alliance party (Samfylkingin).

"Congratulation Iceland. It seem to me that a cross-section of the people voted yesterday and that the results coincide very well with opinion polls," Dagur Eggertsson said on Facebook.