1944 Icelandic constitutional referendum

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A two-part referendum was held in Iceland between 20 and 23 May 1944.[1] Voters were asked whether the Union with Denmark should be abolished and whether to adopt a new republican constitution. Both measures were approved, each with more than 98% in favour. Voter turnout was 98.4% overall,[2] and 100% in two constituencies, Seyðisfirði and Vestur-Skaftafjellssýsla.[3]

The December 1, 1918 Danish–Icelandic Act of Union had granted Iceland independence, but maintained the two countries in a personal union, with the King of Denmark also being the King of Iceland.

Results[edit]

Question For Against Invalid/
blank
Total
votes
Registered
voters
Turnout Result
Votes % Votes %
Abolition of the Act of Union 71,122 99.5 377 0.5 1,559 73,058 74,272 98.4 Approved
New constitution 69,435 98.5 1,051 1.5 2,572 Approved
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Aftermath[edit]

The union with Denmark was dissolved on 17 June 1944. Since Denmark was still occupied by Nazi Germany, many Danes felt offended that the step should have been taken at that time. Nevertheless, King Christian X of Denmark sent a message of congratulations to the Icelandic people.

Republican Celebration[edit]

The Republican Celebration was held in Þingvellir on 17 June 1944. At 13:30, Prime Minister Björn Þórðarson set the celebrations going, after which a religious ceremony was held. The Icelandic flag was raised and the members of the parliament rose from their seats as church bells rang. All declared unilaterally that Iceland would henceforth be a republic. The members of parliament then chose Sveinn Björnsson as the first president. Sveinn had been regent of Iceland and the King's placeholder during the war years. He was the only president not elected directly by the people of Iceland.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p961 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p967
  3. ^ Hálfdanarson, Guðmundur (2001). Íslenska þjóðríkið - uppruni og endamörk. p. 139.