A message painted on a wall in downtown Reykjavík last weekend asking “Where is the new constitution?” was removed only two days later, reportedly by government authorities. The removal may have had the opposite effect of that intended – as there has been an uptick in signatures on a petition urging Iceland’s government to adopt the crowdsourced constitution Icelanders voted on in 2012. The movement in support of this constitution appears to have been gaining steam lately.
Between 2010 and 2012, Iceland “crowdsourced” a new constitution which was handed over to Parliament. A national referendum followed, where a majority voted for the document to be used as a foundation for constitutional reform. Yet it was never adopted. Eight years later, a movement in support of that constitution is growing.
Sign painting company Reykjavík Sign Painters revamped a graffiti-covered wall on Skúlagata street in downtown Reykjavík last weekend by covering it with huge lettering reading: “Where is the new constitution?” The wall was on public property and the painters reportedly asked for permission before initiating the project. Just two days later, cleaners appeared in an unmarked van and pressure-washed the wall to remove the message.
Twitter users expressed outrage at the incident. “What is happening!!!!!! A wall that has been covered in graffiti for many years and is not privately owned is cleaned two days after “Where is the new constitution?” is written on it. Who ordered this and why?” asked Steiney Skúladóttir.
Stundin reports the removal was ordered by Umbra, a management company in the ownership of government ministry offices. The removal of the work appears to have caused a surge in support for the new constitution. A petition demanding Iceland’s government adopt the document has gone from 28,500 signatures to over 31,500 since the message was removed.
Supporters of the 2012 constitution insist it is a much-needed overhaul that better reflects the will of the people on key issues like human rights and use of natural resources. Its critics have claimed its lofty language may cause legal conundrums or its ideals are impossible to achieve. Iceland’s Parliament is currently working on its own revisions of the constitution in a cross-party committee with little direct involvement from the public.