The Democratic Constitutional Design (DCD) research project organises a conference at the University of Iceland on 20 October 2022 on the next steps for the Icelandic Constitutional Revision.

DCD examines what lessons can be drawn from the Icelandic constitutional process 2009-2013 and seeks to apply these lessons in a theoretical framework studying democratic participation and civic engagement and democratic constitutional design in general. Special attention will also be paid to ongoing constitutional revision efforts. The projects works closely with the Prime Minister’s Office in monitoring the implementation of the current program to complete a revision of the constitution over two parliamentary terms, 2018-2025.

The Icelandic Constitutional Council attracted international attention for its public engagement efforts during its work to write a new Icelandic constitution. It won wide-spread public support in Iceland and inspired other countries to seek public engagement in constitutional revision. The Council’s proposal for a new constitution was submitted to Parliament in 2011.

The project combines a thorough study of the Constitutional Council’s work with a discussion of deliberative and epistemic democratic theory that both inspired its work and was affected by its results, in an effort to monitor and explore ongoing attempts by the Icelandic government to engage the public in constitutional revision. The main achievement of the Constitutional Council may be the fact that it created a draft constitution in an open, inclusive and transparent process, thereby permanently affecting dominant ideas about constitutional design.


12:00–13:40 (in English)

Opening Address
Ólöf Garðarsdóttir, Dean of the School of Humanities, University of Iceland

Part one: What Can We Learn from the Process So Far?

  • Catherine Dupré, Exeter University: Icelandic Constitutional Reform. Lessons and Reflections
  • Jón Ólafsson, University of Iceland: Voice of the People, Power of the People. On the Impact (or Non-Impact) of Public Deliberation on Constitutional Design
  • Ragnar Hjálmarsson, University of Iceland: The Icelandic Constitutional Process as a Reaction to Crisis

14:00-15:40 (in English)

Part two: Current constitutional perspectives: Iceland and beyond

  • Stefanía Óskarsdóttir, University of Iceland: Political context of constitutional change: institutions, political strategies and interests
  • Kári Hólmar Ragnarsson, University of Iceland: Elements of a way forward for Icelandic constitutional reform
  • Andy Carl, Independent advisor: Constitution making in comparative contexts of conflict – paying attention to process

16:00-17:15 (in Icelandic)

Part three: Roundtable on successes and failures in the past: Back to the Nineties. Why were constitutional amendments possible then but not now?

Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Kristín Ástgeirsdóttir, Arndís Anna Kristínardóttir Gunnarsdóttir, Jóhann Páll Jóhannsson, Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir.