Shaping Iceland’s electoral system

I had missed this before, but in June, Indridi Indridason posted about the Icelandic Constitutional Council’s proposals for the country’s new electoral system. He notes that the proposal is rather vague in critical respects (and I understand it remains so even now), but broadly:

the proposal stipulates that 63 members will be elected from eight or fewer districts and that voters can either vote for a party list or individual candidates. If the voters opt for voting for individual candidates they are allowed to distribute their votes across candidates of different parties and are free to vote candidate running in any district (if there is more than one district). The electoral law can require up to 2/5 of the seats in parliament to be elected from district lists (rather than a national list).

5 thoughts on “Shaping Iceland’s electoral system

  1. It is usual here to point out that Iceland has the oldest continuously operating legislature in the world.

    It is not usual to point out, but worth bearing in mind, that Iceland has a total population of 320,000. This is equal to about four seats in the British House of Commons or less than half of a U.S. federal congressional district. With 63 members of the legislature, we are talking about a ratio of about 5,000 people per legislators, and with a ratio that small I would suggest it hardly matters how the legislature is chosen.

    Divide the country into 63 single member districts and choose the legislators by lot from each district. Or elect a legislator of seven members using single transferable vote from a district covering the entire island, with the senior member (by either age or service) serving as the president and head of state. But in this case just about everything important would be decided by direct democracy, the legislature would be more of an executive council overseeing the administration.

    With a country this small, there is scope to experiment in much more democratic systems than is the norm. But the price is that the country employs army and really depends on the goodwill of its larger neighbors and its own insignificance to maintain its independence.

  2. In a country like Iceland I think it’s phenomenal that STV was used for the constitutional convention. I think they ought to give the same system (albeit with constituencies) a try for Althing elections.

  3. May I also point out the fact that Iceland has a history of malapportionment (overrepresenting, as usual, the rural districts). According to Wikipedia this is one of the issues to be voted on separately in a referendum in october.

  4. 8 districts each with magnitude 9 would do the trick and only increase the Althing by 3 members. Logically you would elect the President of the Republic by the same method.

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