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Crowdsourcing democracy: the case of Icelandic social constitutionalism

October 22, 2012

The explosion of social media has fundamentally changed every aspect of daily life: relationships with people, businesses and even institutions. More and more politicians are exploiting social media to get closer to their citizens and make their operations more transparent and open, while the more established democracies show a distinct lack of political participation by citizens, manifested in the collapse of turnout in elections, a decline of community life and the growing cynicism and distrust of political parties and institutions. However, the public agents who have enabled real participatory tools designed to share the production of public policies are rare, mostly covering an urban context. Although, there are those who used the Internet and social media even for drafting a new constitution. It is the case of Iceland, who faced a deep financial crisis that has led to the failure of the three largest banks in the country and the ensuing economic collapse. Provided that Iceland has decided to rewrite its constitution, in order to avoid previousmistakes and restore hope to the new political order in acute deficit of trust as a result of faulty behaviors and misconducts. The element that makes the whole process unique is the way about the new constitution was drafted: a grassroots participation, which means a non structured, non hierarchical involvement of ordinary citizens, with a strong use of web 2.0 tools to promote participation and transparency. It is possible to determine that process social constitutionalism, which has reported the new social dynamics generated by social media exploded into the creation of the document that should ensure the political unity of a nation: the Constitution.


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