National Assembly of 1851
The National Assembly of 1851 (Icelandic Þjóðfundurinn 1851) was a constitutional convention called to decide the political status of Iceland. The assembly was called in 1848, in the liberal atmosphere following the Spring of Nations. But in 1851, when the assembly finally met, the political tide had turned and conservative forces had regained strength.
The Danes presented a bill to the assembly which would have made the Danish Constitution of 1849 valid in Iceland with an exception concerning the legislative power. Iceland was to get six seats in the Danish Parliament. The delegates prepared an alternative bill, proposing a constitution for a practically independent Iceland in personal union with the Danish king.
Seeing that the delegates would never agree to the Danish bill and believing them to have no authority to discuss the alternative bill, Governor Trampe decided to dissolve the Assembly. At that point Jón Sigurðsson rose to protest, saying:
- And I protest in the name of the King and the people against this procedure, and I reserve for the Assembly the right to complain to the King about this act of illegality.
The official record of the meeting goes on to say: "Then the members of the Assembly rose and most of them said as if with one voice:
- We all protest!"
The constitutional status of Iceland was to remain an unresolved issue for decades to come.
The National Assemblies or Forums of 2009 and 2010
The National Assembly or National Forum of 2009 (Icelandic: Þjóðfundur 2009) was an assembly of Icelandic citizens at the Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík on 14 November 2009, organized by a group of grassroots movements such as Anthil. It was part of the Kitchenware Revolution that happened in the wake of the Icelandic financial crisis. The Forum would settle the ground for the 2011 Constitutional Assembly and was streamed by the Internet to the public.
1.500 people were invited to participate in the assembly; of these, 1.200 were chosen at random from the national registry, while 300 were representatives of companies, institutions and other groups. Participants represented a cross section of Icelandic society, ranging in age from 18 to 88 and spanning all six constituencies of Iceland, with 73, 77, 89, 365 and 621 people attending from the Northwest, Northeast, South, Southwest and Reykjavík (combined), respectively; 47% of the attendants were women, while 53% were men.
On 16th June, 2010 a Constitutional Act was accepted by parliament and a new Forum was summoned. The Constitutional Act prescribed that the participants of the Forum had to be randomly sampled from the National Population Register, “with due regard to a reasonable distribution of participants across the country and an equal division between genders, to the extent possible”. The National Forum 2010 was initiated by the government on 6 November 2010 and had 950 random participants, organized in subcommisions, which would present a 700 page document that would be the basis for constitutional changes, which would debate a future Constitutional Assembly. The Forum 2010 came into being due to the efforts of both governing parties and the Anthill group. A seven-headed Constitutional Committee, appointed by the parliament, was charged with the supervision of the forum and the presentation of its results, while the organization and facilitation of the National Forum 2010 was done by the Anthill group that had organized the first Forum 2009.
The Constitutional Assembly of 2010
As part of the Kitchenware Revolution, in June, 2010 Alþingi approved laws to have a people Constitutional Assembly, that would work over the 2009 National Assembly proposes, to get a collective insight for a new constitutional reform of Iceland. That work ended in the election of 25 people of no political sign on 26 October 2010. The Supreme Court of Iceland invalidated the results of the election on 25 January 2011, following complaints about several faults in how the election was conducted., but the Parliament decided that those 25 elects would be a part of a Constitutional Council and the Constitutional change went on. In 29 July 2011 the draft was presented to the Parliament.
- Gunnar Karlsson (2000). Iceland's 1100 Years: History of a Marginal Society. Hurst, London. ISBN 1-85065-420-4. Pages 209-214.
- Act on a Constitutional Assembly, Interim Provision
- "Constitutional Assembly elections null and void" (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið, January 25, 2011.
- Decision by the Supreme Court, January 25, 2011