God bless Iceland

Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir  or just Sunna, is elected as a member to the Althing, the parliament of Iceland, for the Pirate Party

In her keynote at Innovating Democracy she addressed the rise of the Pirate Party in Iceland. Key in this development was the financial crisis and the way this was handled  by the then government. In an address to the people on television prime Minister of Iceland Geir H. Haarde issued the famous words: “God bless Iceland”.

The majority of the people were outraged by those words. Those who caused this crisis stayed in place and asked to be trusted to solve this crisis; with the help of God.

Sunna took the streets with a lot of other people. Every Saturday, with pots and pans, they protested against the government. Eventually the government stepped down and after a election a new government was formed.

With the inspiration of the protests and lobbying efforts by civil organisations, the new governing parties decided that Iceland’s citizens should be involved in creating a new constitution. At the same time citizens started to unite in grass root organizations. A National Forum was organised in November 2009 , in the form of an assembly of  by a group of citizen movements. The Forum would settle the ground for the 2011 Constitutional Assembly and was streamed online to the public.

Out of this positive experience the Icelandic Pirate Party was founded by an independent member of parliament, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and several activists out of the protest movement. They combine both on- and off line gatherings to discuss and formulate policy and keep in touch with their electorate. Access is not limited to members of the party but open for everyone who wants to participate.

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