Icelandic constitutional referendum, 1944

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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Constitution

A 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 with more than 98% in favour. Voter turnout was 98.4%,[2] and 100% in two constituencies, Seyðisfirði and Vestur-Skaftafjellssýsla.[3]

In accordance with the stipulations provided in the 1918 Danish–Icelandic Act of Union. That act 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]

Abolishing the Act of Union[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 71,122 99.5
Against 377 0.5
Invalid/blank votes 1,559
Total 73,058 100
Registered voters/turnout 74,272 98.4
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

New republican constitution[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 69,435 98.5
Against 1,051 1.5
Invalid/blank votes 2,572
Total 73,058 100
Registered voters/turnout 74,272 98.4
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Aftermath[edit]

The Republic of Iceland came into being 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 of Denmark Christian X 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. Björnsson 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. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (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.