DPC POLICY NOTE 14: Constitutions on Ice: Iceland’s Stalled Reform Effort and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Nonexistent One.
Keywords: Iceland; BiH; reform; constitution; parliamentary elections; national referendum; political elites; consensus;
As angry Icelandic citizens prepare for early parliamentary elections this autumn, a bill to adopt the world’s first crowd sourced constitution sits on ice in Reykjavik. The bill, already approved by national referendum, has lain dormant since parliamentary elections ousted its sponsor parties back in 2013. The six-year history of Iceland’s constitutional bill, with all its twists and turns, is a practical case study for Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter BiH). Not only does Iceland provide workable models for the drafting phase, it, realistically, confronts the political setbacks inevitable in any constitutional reform effort. Both Iceland and BiH adopted their existing constitutions in wartime (World War II and the Bosnian War, respectively). While these wars and the constitutions of Iceland and BiH differ vastly, the political environment in which Icelandic lawmakers adopted their constitution, the constitution’s durability thereafter, and the country’s bottom-up reform process hold valuable lessons for BiH.