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Pirates Propose Speeches by the Public at Parliament

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Pirates Propose Speeches by the Public at Parliament

Parliament of Iceland

Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, is situated at Austurvöllur in downtown Reykjavík.Photo: Ian Funk.

The Pirate Party of Iceland has proposed a bill which will allow citizens to address the Parliament each month, RÚV reports. The bill proposes that up to ten citizens will be selected at random from the National Registry each month. Each selected individual would be given two minutes to address Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, about a matter close to their heart.

The bill's report states that this format, where voters have the opportunity to address the Parliament, is not in place in other Nordic countries. There are no stipulations in Icelandic laws which allow for this format either. The bill aims to give ordinary citizens a chance to affect the Parliament's work. The Pirate Party's main focus is direct democracy and government transparency.

A constitutional reform which took place between 2010 to 2013 suggested provisions which allowed bills to be suggested by voter's initiative. This newly proposed bill does not allow for voter's to suggest bills, but rather only to address the Parliament.

There are precedents for others than MP's, ministers or the President of Iceland, addressing the Parliament. For example, Pia Kjærsgaard, the president of the Danish Parliament, held an honorary speech at a ceremonial meeting of the Parliament at Þingvellir this summer.

The people and the parliament

In an interview with radio station Rás 2, part of the National Icelandic Broadcasting Service, Björn Leví Gunnarsson, an MP for the Pirate Party, stated that the purpose of the bill is to move the Parliament closer to the populace and vice versa. He considers it democratic to allow others than MP's and ministers to address the Parliament. Björn believes it will be interesting to see how the bill will be handled at the Parliament, but he hopes that it will at least be debated and handled by a Parliament committee.

Björn believes that the citizen speeches will not be improper or unfit for the Parliament, "...because people are coming there for most likely the only time in their life, and it is a speech will be recorded in Parliament papers for all of Iceland's lifespan".

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