Iceland votes on ‘crowd sourced’ constitution

REYKJAVIK: Icelanders voted on Saturday in a consultative referendum on what has been dubbed the world’s first “crowd sourced constitution”, but turnout was sluggish amid fears politicians would ignore the results.

The new basic law was drafted by 25 ordinary citizens and includes proposals made on Twitter and Facebook.

On Saturday, voters were to answer six questions on topics such as the role of the country’s natural resources and of the national church with a simple yes or no.

But amid uncertainty over whether lawmakers would implement the results, voter turnout at Reykjavik’s polling stations seemed to trail other referenda.

“I’ve been at sea and have not had much time to think about these matters. Besides I don’t think it really matters because there is no certainty that the will of the voters will prevail,” said Gunnar Olafsson, a fisherman.

In Reykjavik’s northern constituency, 13.07 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots by 1400 GMT.

By comparison, 21.62 percent had voted at the same time last year, when Icelanders for the second time decided whether to approve a deal to compensate Britain and The Netherlands for the 2008 collapse of Icesave bank.

“Turnout is picking up, it started around 12 o’clock (1200 GMT),” said Katrin Theodorsdottir, head of Reykjavik North’s election committee.

The six questions on the ballot were chosen by a committee of 25 ordinary citizens elected in 2010 to review the country’s constitution.

They in turn took to the Internet to solicit the views of their fellow Icelanders.

“To me this was not a difficult choice. I think the people should decide how the constitution is,” said pensioner Margret Einarsdottir, another voter.

Others expressed doubts over whether that would be the case. “I am not sure what the politicians will do with the results. It is not certain that the outcome of this election will be what we may see in a new constitution,” said Sigurdur Gudmundsson, a driver.

The complexity of the ballots means results are not expected to be announced until Sunday. Polls opened on Saturday at 0900 GMT and are scheduled to close at 2200 GMT.

Demands that any new constitution be drawn up by ordinary citizens surfaced in the wake of Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, which provoked huge social movements in the country.

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