Nationalism arrives in Iceland I

Some people out in the big world seem to think that the Icelandic government can still be expected be progressive about causes such as freedom of expression, transparency and access to information about governmental affairs. But this is not quite the case. We have a new government now and a Prime Minister who wants to […]

On the last evening of the last session

Is anything more foolish than a vote in parliament where each voting MP gets a chance to explain his vote – i.e. say why he/she votes yes or no? Who cares? Why not get on with voting? It is maybe nothing more than the ultimate expression of what parliamentary debates tend to be: expressing opinions. […]

Revolution or not

In 2009 something happened. It looked like this: Hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of people gathered in front of the parliament building in Reykjavík, Iceland. They had their pots and pans with them and hit them with sticks and spoons and other kinds of blunt objects (apparently forks and knives were left at home). A few […]

Local matters

The way in which the greatest ambitions sometimes appear in an intense desire to achieve very limited goals can be quite stunning. Look at the constitutional bill, here in Iceland. It’s been created in a highly unusual way, through open consultation between a first elected, then appointed, council and the public. It has evoked interest […]

Archaeology and memory

Archaeology of memory clearly makes sense – as does historical archaeology. There are events hidden or repressed, traumatic or simply disconcerting that cannot be allowed to reach the surface except very briefly. Think of the Danish King, visiting his Icelandic subjects as King of Iceland. He brings presents – a photographed edition of one of […]


One problem with referenda is the forced choice: In a referendum I am given options that may not reflect the relevant choice. In the first Icesave referendum this was clearly the case: Parliament allows the government to sign an agreement given that a certain debt to the British and the Dutch is to be paid. […]

Lives of Constitutions

Tom Ginsburg, a legal scholar from Chicago, specializing in constitutions was in Iceland last week to talk about the draft constitution, which, unfortunately, seems on the verge of being put aside by the parliament. Currently the draft is being discussed as a constitutional bill, but due to the sustained attacks on it by legal scholars […]