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Iceland crowd-sources constitution via Facebook

Iceland has turned to the internet for help in writing its new crowd-sourced constitution, seeking suggestions from its citizens via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Iceland's existing constitution dates from the country's independence from Denmark in 1944 - resulting in a bill of rights that is pretty much a cut and paste of the Danish document.

But now, in a bid to update the young nation's constitution, Iceland's Constitutional Council or Stjórnlagaráð is involving the people through open meetings, a web site and the use of social media such as a Facebook page and Twitter account.

A recent post on the Council's Facebook page even welcomes comments from English-speaking users, noting that "Google translate works remarkably well on our official site if you care to join in the conversation."

Using these methods, members of the public can observe council members at work, comment and make suggestions towards the writing of the new constitutional document, the final draft of which will be voted on in a referendum.

Iceland is home to the oldest parliament in the world - the Althing, founded in 930 AD - but in the wake of recent events such as the failure of the country's banking system, the country's political class are fighting to regain the faith of a sceptical public.

The Constitutional Council's open door on crowd-sourced democratic input may go some way to addressing that sense of disenfranchisement.