Prime Minister Proposes Raising Presidential Endorser Threshold Skip to content

Prime Minister Proposes Raising Presidential Endorser Threshold

By Ragnar Tómas

bjarni benediktsson
Photo: Golli. Bjarni Benediktsson.

Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson will discuss possible constitutional changes with parliamentary leaders, focusing on the constituency system, vote weight, parliamentary prosecutorial authority, and the minimum number of endorsers for presidential candidates.

Sounding out a consensus

Possible changes to the constitution will be discussed at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson with leaders of all parliamentary parties, reports. Topics will include the constituency system, vote weight [the electoral system in Iceland currently allows for up to a twofold difference in the weight of votes based on residence], the prosecutorial authority of parliament, and likely the minimum number of endorsers required for presidential candidates.

“This is work with deep roots, extending far into the last parliamentary term. Now, as we near the end of this term, it is timely to review what the parties could agree on,” Bjarni stated in an interview with published this morning.

Asked whether ideas about changing the number of endorsers for presidential candidates – which sits at 1,500 and was widely discussed before the recent presidential elections, especially since six candidates in the elections received fewer votes than the required number of endorsers – will be addressed, Bjarni said it is likely.

“I believe the threshold should be raised. I have no doubt that the candidates who had the most support in the presidential elections would have easily surpassed a higher threshold than the current one,” Bjarni stated.

The controversial National Court

“At the meeting, I want to discuss issues that have received little attention so far, such as the constituency system in Iceland. My sense is that voters feel the constituencies are too large, particularly in rural areas. In the Northwest, Northeast, and South constituencies, the distance between elected representatives and the people is too great, and I want to introduce ideas to reduce the size of the constituencies,” Bjarni stated, also mentioning the need to address the vote weight disparity between constituencies and the balancing among parliamentary parties.

“I also want to discuss ideas for making timely changes to the prosecutorial authority of parliament over ministers, generally referred to as changes to the National Court (Landsdómur),” Bjarni observed.

According to the constitution, parliament has the power to indict a minister, referring the case to the National Court, a special court that has only convened only once since its establishment in 1905: in 2011, when former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde was charged with negligence related to the 2008 financial crisis. The necessity of this special court has been debated, and despite multiple attempts to revise these laws, little progress has been made.

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