Iceland Drafts New Constitution Using Facebook

The small country of Iceland is crowdsourcing its constitution: The parliamentary republic’s officials are looking to solicit ideas and feedback from social media sites like Facebook for its “by the people,” “for the people” document.

“I believe this is the first time a constitution is being drafted basically on the Internet,” said Thorvaldur Gylfason, member of Iceland’s constitutional council told the U.K.’s Guardian.

The country’s current constitution went into effect on June 17, 1944. Since it was instituted, it has been amended a total of seven times, without any input from the country’s people. Since the gaining independence from Denmark, Iceland essentially adopted the Danish constitution. The only thing that was tweaked was the substitution of the word “president” for “king.”

In April of this year, the constitution council has posted draft clauses that are open for discussion for the country’s citizens via Facebook to chime in with their two cents. So far, there have been countless nods of approval from people from all over the world, who are applauding such democratic actions. As three Facebook users on the site stated:

“Well done Iceland. Irish politicians sit up and note how things should be done!”

“You are a model for every freedom and democracy defender all over the world. Our hopes rely in you. I wish you the best from Spain.”

“As an American, I would like to express my profound awe, gratitude, and jealousy toward the awesome transparency and collective national effort that the people and leaders of Iceland are showcasing in this fantastic process. The world can only hope that our leaders look to Iceland as an example of how true democracy, ESPECIALLY in the fold of hard times, can prosper and give rise to a flourishing people and nation.”

The Icelandic government leaders have not only taken to Facebook to garner opinions about their policies but have also used Twitter and YouTube.

Gylfason told the Guardian the discussions surrounding the project have been lively: “The public have added much to our debate. Their comments have been quite helpful and they have had a positive effect on the outcome.”

The parliamentary meetings have even been open to the public and streamed live via the country’s website and Facebook, where two-thirds of its population are users of the popular social media. The government page has over 2,500 likes thus far.

The draft bill is due to be ready at the end of July and may be put to a referendum without any changes imposed by parliament, so it will be a document that is truly “by the people” and “for the people.”

Readers, would you want to get involved in revising your government’s constitution if you had the option to do so via Facebook?

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