Iceland residents draft, approve of crowdsourced constitution

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A year ago Iceland found themselves between a rock and a hard place. The country was in the middle of a crippling economic recession that sparked multiple protests from disgruntled citizens. Rather than try to sort out the mess on their own, government officials opted for a radical approach to solve the crisis: ask their citizens for help.

Icelanders were invited to help draft a new constitution using modern methods of communication. Petitions, letters and phone call requests were replaced with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even Flickr.

More than 3,600 comments and 370 proposals were collected for the “crowdscourced constitution.” From there, a group of 25 constitutional council members combed over the ideas and suggestions before weaving it all into a single body of work.

Weekly meetings were streamed live on the council’s website and on Facebook. It was here that citizens could comment on topics, make their own suggestions and engage in healthy debates. Surprisingly enough, it all worked out in the end.

A vote held last weekend revealed that 66 percent of voters agreed to use the crowdsourced document as the foundation for the country’s new constitution. The new constitution will now be handed over to lawmakers and politicians for editing, polishing and a final review.

It’s entirely possible that the country’s parliament will toss out the document and create something on their own – likely to the dismay of many residents that have invested a lot of time and effort into the project. Either way, it will probably be said and done before the country’s next election scheduled for spring 2013.

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