Questions from and answers to D - La Repubblica delle Donne, weekly Magazine of the newspaper La Repubblica

What do the Icelandic people need?

The demand for a new constitution is a direct consequence of the crash of 2008. When a country collapses as Iceland did, it is necessary to look for ways to strengthen the country's foundation. The people need a new constitution with, among other things, stronger checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government to reduce the likelihood that history will repeat itself.

What do you hope for Iceland’s future?

Iceland needs to re-establish its position as an equal and worthy partner in the Nordic and, more broadly, European family of nations.

How do you  remember the protest days? And the day when Constitutional Council was elected?

The pots and pans revolution shook the country, and led directly to a change of government. It was peaceful and civilized throughout.

Can  you tell me a particular episode of Constitutional Council election day that you mostly remember?

I was away, in South Africa, for three weeks and did not return home until four days after the election. Like the pots and pans revolution, the election campaign, if campaign is the right word, was very civilized. Most of the candidates actually did not campaign at all, they just made themselves available, wrote perhaps a few articles on the internet (the main newspaper did not accept submissions from candidates, so I actually had to take a break from my weekly newspaper column) , and let the voters decide. That was that.

What is the situation in Iceland now? What kind of atmospere you can feel this time, from the National Gathering until today?

The economic situation is a bit unsettled because of various delays in the implementation of the economic reconstruction program supported by the IMF and the Nordic countries. The capital controls that were originally intended to be in place for 2-3 years are now envisaged to last 6-7 years or longer. Hence, it will take Iceland several years longer to recover than the authorities and the IMF hoped in the beginning. The economic crisis has been compounded by political difficulties.

In which way Icelandic people are taking part in the Council’s meetings?

Council meetings will be broadcast live on the internet. The council and individual council members will try to engage the nation in a conversation about the constitution and how it needs to be reformed.

Lots of foreign observers think that in Iceland there is a “quiet, silent revolution”. Do you think it is correct?

Yes, I do believe that a "quite, silent revolution" is underway. This revolution is opposed by strong political forces, including what used to be the country's largest political party that remains closely related to special interest groups such as, in particular, the fishing lobby. Those forces will oppose all proposed changes to the constitution. Those are the people who have refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the crash and have rejected the findings of the Parliament's Special Investigation Committee Report that issued in April 2010 a damning verdict about both the collapsed banks and the country's dysfunctional public administration. Those forces want, in their own interest, to preserve status quo. The decision by six supreme court justices to nullify the constitutional assembly election of November 2010, an unprecedented event in a democratic country, needs to be viewed in this light. Against these obstacles, the constitutional council's mandate is to propose changes in the constitution in view of the resolutions of the national assembly convened in October 2010 and the constitutional committee whose 700 page report was made public in April 2011.

 


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