Politicians Divided on Constitution in New Year’s Speeches

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Politicians Divided on Constitution in New Year’s Speeches

In her televised speech on December 31, Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir mentioned the planned amendments to the Icelandic Constitution, saying the outcome of the national referendum in October had been conclusive.

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Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Photo: Geir Ólafsson/Iceland Review.

“The nation is calling for changes to the basic elements of society. The matter is now in the hands of Alþingi [the parliament] and its responsibility towards the public is great. It is my sincere hope that MPs will succeed in agreeing to changes to the country’s administration before the coming general election [in April 2013],” Jóhanna said, according to Fréttablaðið.

The PM also said that low-income jobs and typical female jobs would have to be reevaluated in the upcoming wage contracts, encouraging the employment market to seek reconciliation and agree to improve the wages of those with the lowest income.

In his address to the nation on January 1, President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson harshly criticized the bill on a new Constitution of Iceland, based on the results of the referendum, dedicating almost half his speech to the topic.

Ólafur Ragnar stated that disputes that have arisen are unlikely to lead to a successful outcome for the project, comparing dismissal of criticism academics have expressed about the proposed amendments to the Constitution to ignoring climate change.

“Wasn’t the main lesson of the collapse supposed to be taking more note of those who in the power of their knowledge warn against risks lurking behind the corner?” he asked.

Salvör Nordal, who served as chair of the Constitutional Council, on whose draft the nation voted in the referendum in October, told ruv.is that she agrees with Ólafur Ragnar in that the parliament is in a tight situation.

Given the disagreement on the issue, it is doubtful that discussions on it can be completed by the end of this term, she added.

Ragnhildur Helgadóttir, law professor at Reykjavík University, said the president’s message had been clear but that he takes his criticism and interpretation of the impact changes to the Constitution may bring about further than any academics have done.

“What I and many other academics have pointed out is that the possible impact of the bill must be looked into before it is passed,” Ragnhildur added.

Click here to read more about the bill.

ESA