Constitution, Ethos and Change of Life in Common: Some Introductive Reflections on the Example of Icelandic Constitutional Project

Abstract

The Icelandic constitutional movement was created to address and develop a new constitutional form based upon transparency, responsibility and participation. Taking into consideration the events, which took place in 2008 this expectation appeared more than legitimate. Furthermore, the quality of the debate, which took place within the civil society and in the cooperation between civil society and Constitutional Council, are very meaningful elements supporting a genuine possibility of change. The aim of implementing a participation-based constitution may lead to the diversification of the Icelandic project with respect to the typology of the existing constitution. This may produce as a result the development of new checks and balances. For this reason the development of public local services may be an opportunity to develop a social balance with respect of the constitution in force, as well as a living constitution starting from below. In this way the values purported by civil society may lead to higher levels of political freedom and finally to the approval of a new constitution. To keep the Icelandic process communicatively open in a transnational perspective may thus permit other persons to contribute to the development of Icelandic democracy. It may furthermore offer the Icelandic example as a useful tool that could be used by many world societies aiming to implement transparency, responsibility and participation in their public life. Indeed, even though the Constitutional Bill of 2011 will not finally be validly approved as the Icelandic constitution, the problems that it posed, and the possibilities that we see are stemming from them, have in our opinion a general importance for constitutional reflections.

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