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Sigurður Líndal   

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Den islandske forfatningsprosessen

English Summary
The article is a lecture by Professor Sigurður Líndal held at the Constitutional Conference in Tórshavn, Faroes, in March 2003. It bears the heading: The Constitutional Process of Iceland. Here Líndal offers a brief review of the Icelandic process of obtaining a modern constitution in a struggle for national emancipation at more than one level; the Icelanders' struggle for self-government first from an absolutist Danish monarchy developing from 1848 into the democratic Kingdom ofDenmark, and after obtaining full national independence, also a power struggle between the popularly elected parliament (the Althingi) and the executive branches of government. Líndal briefly describes the main features of the constitution, while doing so he mentions that some significant elements of the constitutional practice have developed as customary law — e.g. the issues ofthe parliamentarian basis for executive power and cabinet ministers' accountability towards the legislative assembly. He stresses the competing powers of the executive branch and the assembly, where the executive branch of government mostly seems to have the upper hand, and he describes recent attempts by the assembly to regain some of the lost power through constitutional revisions. Líndal shows how the judiciary has evolved into an important role of constitutional review, and finally in his lecture he discusses important issues concerning citizen's rights and basic human rights, where he somewhat provocative claims that in many cases it seems as though the modern constitutional guaranties lead to a system that is doing more to protect the criminals than their victims. He reminds us of the problem that many of these rights originally were put there to protect the citizen against an autocratic regime, while these guarantees now are being used to protect often loudly articulated and strong special interests against a government elected by the people.