The Venice Commission, which consults the European Council on constitutional matters, submitted its draft opinion of Iceland’s constitutional bill to the Icelandic parliament, Alþingi, yesterday. The opinion draft will now be translated and discussed at the parliament’s Constitutional and Supervisory Committee.
Iceland's Constitutional Council convenes for the first time in April 2011 to make a draft for a new constitution for Iceland. Photo: Páll Kjartansson/Iceland Review.
According to RÚV, the Venice Commission severely criticizes the bill, stating that the wording is often unclear and too general and that the interplay between institutions is made too complicated, creating risk for political struggles and instability.
For example, in the review of the human rights chapter, the opinion states (page 6): “First, the Bill includes all three types of rights in one chapter, without clearly distinguishing them according to their different status. This may lead to misunderstandings as to the scope and meaning of some of the provisions. Clarifications are recommended in this respect.”
After praising some aspects of the chapter on Alþingi, the parliament, the opinion states (page 13): “In the Venice Commission’s view, Article 50.1, dealing with the issues of conflict of interests and qualification/disqualification, needs to be reviewed and clarified. In the current form, these provisions are quite unusual and may open the way for endless arguments before the reading of any draft law of importance.”
In spite of the Constitutional and Supervisory Committee wanting to keep the opinion confidential until it has been translated (presumably on Friday), RÚV obtained a copy of the Venice Commission’s opinion and posted it online.
Valgerður Bjarnadóttir, who chairs the parliament’s Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, told Fréttablaðið that the Venice Commission was satisfied with some aspects of the constitutional bill but criticized others.
Árni Páll Árnason, who was recently elected as Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir’s successor as chair of the Social Democratic-Alliance, stated yesterday that the government aims to complete discussions on the constitutional bill before the current parliamentary session ends in two weeks.
Árni Páll added that the government does not agree with the opposition that the matter should be postponed, ruv.is reports. However, this is what the Venice Commission proposes in its opinion.
Click here to read more about the controversy surrounding the constitutional bill.