Talks of Referendum on the Rise Skip to content

Talks of Referendum on the Rise

The petition against the proposed amendments to the fishing tariffs has led to discussions concerning the possibility of President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson referring it to a national referendum.

According to Ágúst Þór Árnason, the dean of the University of Akureyri’s law school, the president is not bound by his previous actions of referring controversial bills to referendums. He expects the president will nonetheless accept the petition,

Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

More than 30,000 people have already signed the petition, urging the parliament not to pass the government’s bill on amends to the fishing tariffs.

Should the parliament pass the bill, the petition will be taken to Ólafur and he asked to veto it, thereby referring it to a referendum.

In 2010 and 2011 the president responded to petitions concerning bills on Icesave by referring them to national referendums.

For the first Icesave petition a total of 56,000 signatures were collected and for the second one, 38,000 signatures.

The question at present is whether the president can do anything but reject the bill on amendments to the fishing tariffs should it be passed by parliament.

“The president is not bound by the letter of the law … but all petitions have to be evaluated equally. We can expect him to weigh his options,” Ágúst Þór told

During a radio interview on Bylgjan last year, the president said that few issues were as well-suited to be referred to national referendums as those concerning the fisheries control system.

“I don’t think he is bound by his words or previous actions, apart from the notion that all decisions have to be given equal weight,” Ágúst told

In Ágúst’s opinion, the number of signatures is an important factor.


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