This report was made on request from the Prime Minister´s Office. During the weekend 9th to 10th of November a panel discussion was held on the revision of the constitution of the republic. The meeting was a part of a bigger project, Deliberative Poll, which was administered by the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Iceland in collaboration with the project Democratical Constitution and Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University. The aim of the panel discussion was twofold. On the one hand to explore the attitude of the Icelandic people towards propositions that have come forth in recent years to changing the constitution of the republic. And on the other hand, to see if discussions about the topics and access to information from experts in the field have impact on participant´s opinions.

Commissioned by Prime Minister´s Office
Objective Explore the attitude of the Icelandic people towards propositions that have come forth in recent years to changing the constitution of the republic and see if discussions about the topics and access to information from experts in the field have impact on particpant´s opinions.
Acknowledgement The project proceeded with the active support of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University.
Data collection period Between 1st of July and 10th of November 2019
Administration Social Science Research Institute
fel.hi.is/english
Authors Guðbjörg Andrea Jónsdóttir, Guðný Bergþóra Tryggvadóttir, Guðný Gústafsdóttir, Hafsteinn Birgir Einarsson, Helgi Guðmundsson, Hrafnhildur Snæfríðar- og Gunnarsdóttir, James Fishkin, Jón Ólafsson and Stefán Þór Gunnarsson

Procedure and response rate

Participants

Participants in the Deliberative Poll were 233 individuals, 18 years or older from all over Iceland, with Icelandic citizenship that had answered a survey (here after called summer survey) about attitude towards revision of the constitution this summer, and showed interest in participating in the Deliberative Poll. Participants of the summer survey were 2165. Of these, 677 participants showed interest in participating and a formal invitation for participation in the Deliberative Poll was sent to them all. In addition, an invitation was sent to 482 individuals 45 years and younger who had not shown interest. Thus, sample size for the Deliberative Poll is 1159. Participants in the Deliberative Poll received payment of 45500 ISK for participating. Those who lived outside the capital area were reimbursed for their travel costs and lodging.

The summer survey used a mixed sampling method, where a random sample of 1500 people, 18 years and older with Icelandic citizenship was obtained from the national registry. In addition, a sample of 3066 people, 18 years and older, was obtained from the online panel of the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Iceland1.

1The online panel consists of people 18 years old or older in Iceland that have agreed to participate in internet surveys conducted by the Social Science Research Institute. The panel is built using a random sample from the National Register of Iceland. The accumulation of participants in the internet panel is a gradual process and the combination of participant in the panel is carefully monitored. Among other things it is ensured that the distribution of gender, age and residence of participants resembles the general population, 18 years old or older. By ensuring the quality of the internet panel as demonstrated here above it is possible to generalize about research findings that are based on the panel.

Procedure

The Deliberative Poll proceeded as follows, first a survey was administered to a random sample from the national registry and a stratified random sample from the online panel of the Social Science Research Institute. After that, participants were invited to participate in a Deliberative Poll, and those who accepted were sent information on the subject. The meeting took place in Laugardalshöll from Saturday 9th to Sunday 10th of November. In the beginning of the meeting a survey was administered and there after they were seated on tables were the subjects were discussed in an orderly fashion while considering arguments for and against those subjects. The discussions were under control from a group moderator and a recorder wrote down what was discussed. In the meeting participants had the chance to ask experts in the field questions on each topic. At the end of the meeting a survey was administered again to see if their attitude towards the topics had changed after the discussions.

Table 1.    Procedure
Summer survey
Deliberative Poll
Sample from the national registry Sample from our online panel Participants in the Deliberative Poll
Data collection method Phone or online survey Online survey Paper-based questionnaire
Data collection 01.07 - 09.09 2019 04.07 - 12.09 2019 09.11 - 10.11 2019
Sample size 1,500 3,066 1,159
Number of respondents 624 1,541 233
Drop out 18 0 0
Could not be reached 385 66
Refuse to answer 239
Response rate - gross 42% 50%
Response rate - net 42% 50%
Participation rate 20%

Table 2 shows the distribution among respondents and the Icelandic population by gender, age, residence, education and party voted for in the last general elections. The data was weighted by gender, age, residence, education and party voted for for in order to reflect the population of Iceland as well as possible; i.e. all voters living in Iceland. A significant difference was between the distribution of these five demographics and their distribution in the population.

Table 2.    Comparison of the distribution of gender, age, residence, education, and party voted for and the distribution in the population
Respondents, unweighted
Respondents, weighted
Population
Frequency Proportion Frequency Proportion Frequency Proportion
Gender **
Males 142 60.9% 127 54.5% 141,513 51.2%
Females 91 39.1% 106 45.5% 134,770 48.8%
Age ***
18-25 years old 10 4.3% 34 14.6% 40,919 14.8%
26-35 years old 25 10.7% 42 18.0% 54,775 19.8%
36-45 years old 33 14.2% 33 14.2% 48,363 17.5%
46-55 years old 46 19.7% 40 17.2% 44,314 16.0%
56-65 years old 57 24.5% 41 17.6% 40,781 14.8%
60 years and older 62 26.6% 43 18.5% 47,131 17.1%
Residence **
Capital area 170 73.0% 161 69.1% 176,839 64.0%
Outside the capital area 63 27.0% 72 30.9% 99,444 36.0%
Education ***
Primary education 22 9.5% 59 25.7% 79,362 28.7%
Secondary education 86 37.2% 80 34.8% 99,169 35.9%
Tertiary education 123 53.2% 91 39.6% 97,752 35.4%
Party voted for in the last general elections óg
Framsóknarflokkurinn (B-listi) 16 8.3% 19 9.9% 21,016 10.5%
Viðreisn (C-listi) 12 6.2% 13 6.8% 13,122 6.5%
Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (D-listi) 31 16.1% 38 19.8% 49,543 24.7%
Flokkur fólksins (F-listi) 11 5.7% 13 6.8% 13,502 6.7%
Miðflokkurinn (M-listi) 12 6.2% 20 10.4% 21,335 10.6%
Píratar (P-listi) 40 20.7% 21 10.9% 18,051 9.0%
Samfylkingin (S-listi) 27 14.0% 25 13.0% 23,652 11.8%
Vinstrihreyfingin grænt framboð (V-listi) 38 19.7% 35 18.2% 33,155 16.5%
Other party 4 2.1% 2 1.0% 2,394 1.2%
Blank vote 2 1.0% 6 3.1% 4,813 2.4%
Significant difference between groups: p < 0.05, p < 0.01, p < 0.001

Statistical analyses

Responses to the survey were processed with the appropriate statistical analysis for each question. Figures in the report show percentages and means which are calculated based on weighted results. The report only shows answers from participants that chose to answer the questions. Because of this the total number of responses can differ between questions. Participants answered a survey before and after discussions. The surveys were the same, except the latter survey included a few additional questions. Everywhere where applicable, results are shown before and after discussions.

Paired samples t-test was used to evaluate whether means were significantly different after discussions for almost all questions. Questions on an ordinal scale (fully disagree - fully agree) were recoded to numeric values from 1-7 when calculating statistical significance. In the chapter Information we used repeated measures logistic regression. If a statistical significant difference occurs it is indicated with stars. One star indicates that there is less than a 5% probability of seeing such difference in answers before and after discussions for respondents if there is no true difference in the population, that is, 5% probability the difference occurred by chance (p < 0.05). Two stars indicate that the difference is significant with 99% confidence (p < 0.01) and three stars indicate that the difference is significant with 99.9% confidence (p < 0.001).

Questionnaire index

Table 3. Questionnaire index
The presidency
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - Presidential elections in Iceland should continue being decided by simple majority elections, where the candidate that gets the most votes wins, even if he/she does not have a majority of votes
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - A two-round system should be introduced, ensuring that the President has the majority of votes by holding a second round of votes between the top two candidates if no candidate has a majority in the first round
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - A transferable vote system where voters sort candidates by priority should be introduced, ensuring that the president has the support of a majority of voters
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - The role of the President should not be changed, it should first and foremost be ceremonial, but with the power to put new laws to a referendum
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - The President should have less power, and not have any direct influence on legislation or institutional processes
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - The President should have more power than afforded by the current constitution and participate in hiring and firing senior officials, legislative effort and in putting together a government after elections
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - There should be a limit to how many terms the President can serve
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the office of President of Iceland? - The age limit for running for president should be unchanged at 35
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - The president does not have much power. Hence it is not important that he/she has a majority of voters behind him/her
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Runoff elections may have lower turnout as people are less likely vote a second time
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Priority ranking in elections is too complicated for most voters to understand
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - The President should represent everybody and so should be above politics
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - The President should have real power because the President is the only official elected directly by popular vote
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - It disrupts the power structure of the state if the president can interfere as he/she likes in some affairs
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Term limits would prevent people from re-electing a President that they think is doing a good job
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Turnover of elected officials is an important part of democracy. It is better for democracy and participation in the democratic process if a President’s term of office isn’t overly long.
The court of Impeachment and Parliament’s power of indictment
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the Court of Impeachment and Parliament’s power of indictment? - Parliament should continue to have the power to indict ministers for violations of the Ministerial Accountability Act and the Court of Impeachment should rule on such matters
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the Court of Impeachment and Parliament’s power of indictment? - Parliament should have the power to indict ministers but general courts should adjudicate such matters
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about the Court of Impeachment and Parliament’s power of indictment? - Parliament should not have the power to indict ministers and the Court of Impeachment should be abolished
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Parliament’s power of indictment and the Court of Impeachment can be misused for political purposes
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Parliament’s power of indictment and the Court of Impeachment are necessary so the public can be assured that proceedings against the executive branch are fair and impartial
On how to amend the constitution
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about changes to the constitution? - The Constitution should be continue to be amended by a simple majority of two consecutive parliaments
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about changes to the constitution? - An increased majority in parliament (2/3) should be enough to amend the Constitution
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about changes to the constitution? - A supermajority in Parliament (5/6) should be able to change the Constitution in a single vote
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about changes to the constitution? - Constitutional amendments should always be approved in a referendum
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Changes to the Constitution should reflect a broad and continuing consensus in the country
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - National referendums on constitutional amendments increase public understanding of the Constitution and its role
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - It must not be too easy to amend the Constitution, as political parties may then do so for partisan purposes
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - It must not be too complicated to amend the Constitution, as it should be a living document that changes with the times
National referendums and national initiatives
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The results of national referendums should generally be binding for the government
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The results of referendums should only be consultative
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The result of a referendum should be binding if an increased majority supports it – 2/3 or more
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The President should be able to put new legislation to a referendum
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - A minority of MPs, e.g. 1/3, should be able to put new legislation to a national referendum
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The public should be able to demand a national referendum on new legislation if such a demand is supported by a certain proportion of voters
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The public should be able to demand a national referendum on general issues, not only new legislation
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - Any policy issue can be the subject of a referendum
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about national referendums and national initiatives? - The public should have the opportunity to propose bills to Parliament with the support of a certain proportion of voters (public initiative)
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Majority rule is a vital component of parliamentary democracy. It may therefore be undemocratic if a minority of MPs can have a decisive effect by forcing a referendum
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - A mechanism that enables the public to propose bills to Parliament ensures public influence on Parliament, thus strengthening democracy
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Public initiative disrupts parliamentary procedure and reduces its efficiency
Electoral districts, vote weight and personalized vote
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about electoral districts, vote weight and personalized vote? - Electoral districts should remain unchanged
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about electoral districts, vote weight and personalized vote? - Electoral districts should be more numerous than they are now
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about electoral districts, vote weight and personalized vote? - The country should be made a single electoral district
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about electoral districts, vote weight and personalized vote? - Elections for Parliament and local bodies should continue to be based on party lists but still allow for a more personalized vote
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about electoral districts, vote weight and personalized vote? - Elections for Parliament and local bodies should be entirely personalized
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - It is important that the country’s division into electoral districts ensures that all parts of the country are represented in Parliament
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - If the country is a single electoral district, smaller areas will lose influence
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - The equal weight of all votes is the most important goal of any change in the election system
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - It is important in order to strengthen representative democracy that voters can have a greater influence on the selection of representatives than the party system allows
International cooperation
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about international cooperation and delegation of competences? - The Icelandic Constitution does not need to be amended to facilitate international cooperation agreements
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following statements about international cooperation and delegation of competences? - The Constitution must be changed to make it possible for the Icelandic government to agree to obligations that may follow from international cooperation
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - The Constitution must grant the government unequivocal authority to work with full force on furthering Iceland’s interests internationally
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - It is important that decisions on the implementation of international agreements are subject to clear advance rules that can be seen as beyond political conflict
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - One of the most important roles of the Constitution is to protect the sovereignty of the Icelandic nation
Values
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Leaving people and companies free to compete economically
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Making one’s own choices
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Making sure that nobody suffers from lack of food or shelter
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Earning as much money as possible
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Having everyone pay their fair share of taxes
On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extreremly important, how important would you say each of the following is to you and/or the society? - Ensuring everyone has equal access to health care
Some people think we should have a more equal society even if that means there is less wealth overall. Other people think we should let individuals get as rich as they can, even if that means more inequality in our society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is more equality and 10 is allowing individuals to get as rich as possible?
Some people think the government should provide more support for the poor, even if that means higher taxes. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is more support for the poor and 10 is taxes should be kept low?
The Icelandic constitution says, “We shall all have equal rights in the eyes of the law and have human rights irrespective of gender, religion, beliefs, national origin, ethnicity, race, skin color, economic status, family or other status”. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in achieving that and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in achieving that?
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Accountability
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Freedom
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Integrity
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Equality
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Democracy
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Human rights
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Justice
Now we ask you to think about values in Icelandic society. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Icelandic society has been not successful at all in at implementing these values and 10 is Icelandic society has been very successful in implementing these values? - Respect
Political landscape
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Public officials care a lot about what people like me think
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - Most public policy issues are so complicated that a person like me can’t really understand what’s going on
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - People like me don’t have any say about what the government does
How strongly would you agree or disagree with the following? - I have opinions about politics that are worth listening to
Now we’d like you to think about the people who disagree strongly with you about issues like those we’ve been asking you about. How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about those people? - They just don’t know enough
Now we’d like you to think about the people who disagree strongly with you about issues like those we’ve been asking you about. How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about those people? - They believe some things that aren’t true
Now we’d like you to think about the people who disagree strongly with you about issues like those we’ve been asking you about. How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about those people? - They are not thinking clearly
Now we’d like you to think about the people who disagree strongly with you about issues like those we’ve been asking you about. How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about those people? - They have good arguments, but there are better arguments for the opposing view
Now we’d like you to think about the people who disagree strongly with you about issues like those we’ve been asking you about. How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about those people? - They are looking out for their own interests
Information
Which of the following is TRUE about the President under the constitution?
How many terms can the same president hold office?
Which institution indicts ministers for violations in office?
Which institution passes judgement in cases against ministers who have been accused of breaking the law in office?
Which of the following is TRUE about the process of making amendments to the constitution?
Does the Icelandic constitution have a provision on public initiative?
Under what circumstances should referendums be held according to the Icelandic constitution? Which of the following is WRONG?
Which of the following statements about Icelandic constituencies is WRONG?
Feedback
In coming to a conclusion and geting a clearer view of a revision of the constitution, where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is the meeting was a waste of time and 10 is the meeting was extremely valuable? - The small group discussions
In coming to a conclusion and geting a clearer view of a revision of the constitution, where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is the meeting was a waste of time and 10 is the meeting was extremely valuable? - The briefing materials
In coming to a conclusion and geting a clearer view of a revision of the constitution, where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is the meeting was a waste of time and 10 is the meeting was extremely valuable? - Panel discussions
In coming to a conclusion and geting a clearer view of a revision of the constitution, where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is the meeting was a waste of time and 10 is the meeting was extremely valuable? - The event as a whole
How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - My group moderator provided the opportunity for everyone to participate in the discussion
How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - The members of my group participated relatively equally in the discussions
How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - My group moderator sometimes tried to influence the group with his or her own views
How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - My group moderator tried to make sure that opposing arguments were considered
How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - The important aspects of the issues were covered in the group discussions
How strongly would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - I learned a lot about people very different from me – about what they and their lives are like
About you
In politics, people sometimes speak of left and right. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means left and 10 means right?
How much or little interest do you have in politics?
What best describes your financial livelihood these days?
There are some groups in Iceland that can be considered minority groups, such as people with disabilities, LGBT people and people of foreign origin. Do you belong to a minority group?

Demographics

Gender, age, residence and education

Gender

Figure 1. Gender

Age

Figure 2. Age

Residence

Figure 3. Residence

Education

Figure 4. What is the highest level of education that you have attained?

Occupational status and salary

Occupational status

Figure 5. Which of the following best describes your current situation?

Individual salary

Figure 6. Before taxes and other deductions, what on average is your own total monthly income?

Household salary

Figure 7. Before taxes and other deductions, what on average is the total monthly income of your household?

What best describes your financial livelihood these days?

Figure 8. What best describes your financial livelihood these days?

Politics

Did you vote in the Icelandic national election 2017

Figure 9. Did you vote in the last Icelandic national election in October 2017?

Who did you vote for in the last general elections

Figure 10. Which party did you vote for in the last general elections, which were held in October 2017?

Participation in a referendum

Figure 11. Have you participated in a referendum in Iceland (e.g. about Icesave or the Constitutional Councils proposals)?

In politics, people sometimes speak of left and right. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means left and 10 means right?

Figure 12. In politics, people sometimes speak of left and right. Where would you place yourself on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means left and 10 means right?

How much or little interest do you have in politics?