This report was made on request from the Prime Minister´s Office and uses data that was collected about the attitude of Icelandic voters to issues that affect the constitution and the future of democracy in Iceland with the following objectives:

  • Outline the collective core values of the Icelandic people
  • Explore the attitude of the Icelandic people to propositions that have come forth in recent years to changing the republic’s constitution
  • Map the view of the public to topics in the constitution as they are listed in the prime minister’s memorandum about the planned revision of the constitution
Commissioned by Prime Minister´s Office
Objective Outline the collective core values of the Icelandic people, explore their attitude towards propositions that have come forth in recent years to changing the constitution of the republic and map out the public’s view on issues of the constitution as they are listed in the prime minister’s memorandum about the revision of the constitution.
Date collection period Between 1st of July and 12th of September 2019
Administration Social Science Research Institute
fel.hi.is/english
Preparation Guðbjörg Andrea Jónsdóttir and Hafsteinn Einarsson
Data collection and statistical processing Hafsteinn Einarsson and Stefán Þór Gunnarsson
Report Helgi Guðmundsson and Stefán Þór Gunnarsson

Procedure and response rate

The questionnaire 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 Iceland.

The 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.

Table 1.    Procedure
Sample from the national registry Sample from our online panel Total
Data collection method Phone or online survey Online survey
Data collection 01.07 - 09.09 2019 04.07 - 12.09 2019 01.07 - 12.09 2019
Sample size 1,500 3,066 4,566
Number of respondents 624 1,541 2,165
Drop out 18 0 18
Could not be reached 385 66 451
Refuse to answer 239 0 239
Response rate - gross 42% 50% 47%
Response rate - net 42% 50% 48%

Table 2 shows the distribution among respondents and the Icelandic population by gender, age, residence and education. The data was weighted by gender, age, residence and education in order to reflect the population of as well as possible; i.e. all voters living in Iceland. A significant difference was in the age distribution between respondents and the population in general. Likewise, a significant difference was between the distribution of education among respondents and the distribution in the population.

Table 2.    Comparison of the distribution of gender, age, residence, and education and distribution in the population
Number of respondents Population size Proportion of respondents Proportion in the population
Gender
Males 1,144 144,114 52.8% 51.3%
Females 1,021 136,689 47.2% 48.7%
Age ***
18-25 years old 181 40,718 8.4% 14.5%
26-35 years old 263 56,416 12.1% 20.1%
36-45 years old 344 49,059 15.9% 17.5%
46-55 years old 439 44,818 20.3% 16.0%
56-65 years old 445 41,328 20.6% 14.7%
60 years and older 493 48,464 22.8% 17.3%
Residence
Capital area 1,364 230,360 63.3% 63.9%
Outside the capital area 792 130,030 36.7% 36.1%
Education ***
Primary education 275 74,800 13.6% 31.0%
Secondary education 806 85,700 39.9% 35.5%
Tertiary education 939 81,000 46.5% 33.5%
Significant difference between groups: p < 0.05, p < 0.01, p < 0.001

Responses to the survey were processed with the appropriate statistical analysis for each question. Figures in the report show percentages which are calculated based on weighted results. In addition, figures showing results are broken down by demographics, e.g. gender, age, residence and education. Here age is broken down into three groups. Residence is broken down by whether people live in the capital area or outside. Education is broken down into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary education.

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.

The chi-square significance test is used to evaluate whether different percentages between groups are statistically significant. If statistically significant difference occurs it is indicated with stars. One star indicates that there is less than a 5% probability that the difference between different groups of respondents will occur if there is no difference between the groups in the population (p < 0.05). Two stars indicate that there is less the a 1% probability that the difference between groups of respondents occurs if there is no difference between the groups in the population (p < 0.01) and three stars indicate that there is less than a 0.1% probability that the difference between groups of respondents will occur if there is no difference between the groups in the population (p < 0.001). If the significance test in invalid because of few responses in the group it is indicated with the abbreviation óg.

Table 3. Questionnaire index

Attitude towards revision of the constitution
Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with Iceland’s current constitution?
Which of the following describes you best?
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - The courts
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - Human rights
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - Electoral districts and voting system
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - The role of the government and ministers
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - Changes to the constitution
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - International cooperation
How necessary or unnecessary do you think reviewing the following topics in the Constitution is? - The role of the president of the republic
How necessary or unnecessary do you think it is that the Constitution addresses the following issues, which are not covered in the current constitution? - Natural resources
How necessary or unnecessary do you think it is that the Constitution addresses the following issues, which are not covered in the current constitution? - Environmental issues
How necessary or unnecessary do you think it is that the Constitution addresses the following issues, which are not covered in the current constitution? - Democratic initiatives by the general public
How necessary or unnecessary do you think it is that the Constitution addresses the following issues, which are not covered in the current constitution? - Icelandic language
Chapter in the constitution regarding the precident of the republic and handling of executive power
Do you think that presidential elections in Iceland should continue being decided by simple majority elections, where the candidate who gets the most votes wins, even if he/she does not have a majority of votes, or do you want to implement a new electoral system?
Let us assume that a change the electoral system used in Icelandic presidential elections has been made. Which of the following electoral systems do you think is the best?
Do you favor or oppose limits on how long a President can be in office?
Let us assume that a limitation on presidential terms has been set. How many terms do you think the President should be able to stay in office at the most?
The President of Iceland primarily has a formal role, although in certain cases the President can have a major influence on politics, for example, by refusing a law confirmation. Do you think the role of the President of Iceland should be a similar office as in the current constitution, more powerful than it is now or less powerful that it is now?
In the current constitution, a candidate who seeks election must be 35 years of age or older. Do you think the current age limit should be kept in place, that there should be no age limit so that anyone who can vote (18 years old) can run, or do you think there should be a different age limit?
In the current constitution, Alþingi has the power to impeach ministers for ministerial offenses. The Court of Impeachment is a special court that deals with and judges in those cases. Do you think the current arrangement should be kept in place or that a different arrangement should be adopted?
Let us imagine that the framework for processing cases on ministerial offenses is has been changed. What do you think the framework should be?
Changes to the constitution
In the current constitution, a majority of parliamentarians must accept amendments to the Constitution twice and parliamentary elections are to take place in between. Do you think those procedures should be kept in place or that different set of procedures should be adopted, e.g. holding referendums or requiring an extended majority of votes in parliament?
Which of the following best describes your opinion?
Referendum on the basis of signatures
Do you favor or oppose holding referendums more frequently than they are held presently?
Do you think the results of referendums should be advisory, always binding or only binding if turnout is high enough?
Let us assume that general citizens can propose a referendum on laws passed by Parliament by collecting a certain number of signatures. What percentage of those eligible to vote should at a minimum have to sign so that the referendum must be held? Please note that the number of voters is estimated by the electoral register for the last national election.
Do you think that the president should keep the authority to refer new laws to a referendum or do you think that cases should only be referred to referendums through the process of signature collection?
There are many ways that can be used to call a referendum on controversial legislation and other issues. Do you favor or oppose the following ways of calling referendums? - A certain number or percentage of general voters should be able to refer cases to a referendum by collecting signatures
There are many ways that can be used to call a referendum on controversial legislation and other issues. Do you favor or oppose the following ways of calling referendums? - A certain number or proportion of Parliament members (eg. parliament members that are in the minority) should be able to refer cases to a referendum
There are many ways that can be used to call a referendum on controversial legislation and other issues. Do you favor or oppose the following ways of calling referendums? - The President of Iceland should be authorized to refer cases to a referendum
Some people believe that no restrictions should be placed on which issues can be voted on in referendums, but others believe that some issues have to be excluded. Do you favor of or oppose being able to vote on the following issues? - Government budgets
Some people believe that no restrictions should be placed on which issues can be voted on in referendums, but others believe that some issues have to be excluded. Do you favor of or oppose being able to vote on the following issues? - Taxes
Some people believe that no restrictions should be placed on which issues can be voted on in referendums, but others believe that some issues have to be excluded. Do you favor of or oppose being able to vote on the following issues? - Laws that are set in accordance with international agreements
Some people believe that no restrictions should be placed on which issues can be voted on in referendums, but others believe that some issues have to be excluded. Do you favor of or oppose being able to vote on the following issues? - Membership of new international agreements
Some people believe that no restrictions should be placed on which issues can be voted on in referendums, but others believe that some issues have to be excluded. Do you favor of or oppose being able to vote on the following issues? - Parliamentary resolutions
Some people believe that no restrictions should be placed on which issues can be voted on in referendums, but others believe that some issues have to be excluded. Do you favor of or oppose being able to vote on the following issues? - Human rights issues
National initiative
National initiatives entail that if a certain number of signatures is collected, the public can submit a parliamentary issue, which Alþingi then processes. Do you favor or oppose that national initiatives will be made possible in Iceland with a constitutional clause?
If a national initiative is made possible in the Constitution, there have to be rules regarding how many signatures are needed for Alþingi to have to process the issue in parliament. What proportion of voters should at a minimum have signed the initiative to force the parliament to consider the issue? Please note that the number of voters is estimated by the electoral register for the last national election.
Constituency arrangement and proportion of votes
In parliamentary elections in Iceland citizens are divided into six electoral districts based on where they live. Each district has between 8-13 representatives. The country could have different electoral districts, e.g. by having more or fewer representatives in each district or by increasing or decreasing the number of districts. How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with Iceland’s current electoral districts?
What system do you prefer regarding electoral districts in Iceland? Do you think the current system with six electoral districts should be kept, that there should be fewer electoral districts which cover more territory, more electoral districts which cover less territory or that the country should be a single electoral district?
Do you favor or oppose the following propositions? - Voting for individual candidates
Do you favor or oppose the following propositions? - All votes in the country should have equal weight
International collaboration
Do you favor or oppose Icelandic participation in international cooperation?
Which of the following statements is closer to your attitude towards whether a new clause should be added to the Constitution regarding international cooperation?
Citizens meeting
Félagsvísindastofnun is organizing a citizens meeting in cooperation with the prime ministers office. The meeting is part of the constitutional review process and will take place on November 9th to 10th this year. Participants in the meeting will discuss in small groups under the direction of trained staff. The discussions will be based on the questions you have answered in this survey and topics such as referendums, the role of the president and the constitution in general will be discussed. All participants will get a chance to express their views. Are you interested in participating in this citizens meeting?
Demographic information
What is the highest level of education that you have attained?
Which of the following best describes your current situation?
Which of the following applies to where your parents were born?
Before taxes and other deductions, what on average is your own total monthly income?
Before taxes and other deductions, what on average is the total monthly income of your household?
Did you vote in the last Icelandic national election in October 2017?
Which party did you vote for in the last general elections, which were held in October 2017?
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?
Do you consider your interest in politics very great, great, some, little, or are you not interested in politics at all?
Do you have any comments regarding the survey as a whole or individual questions?

Presentation of results

In the results chapter, figures for questions are shown in tabs (see fig. 1). The explanatory figure shows two questions grouped together. Clicking on “Knowledge of the constitution” shows results for that question. A few more tabs are shown below the horizontal line. The first tab always shows the distribution of proportions, the other tabs show results broken down by a demographic. For this particular question there are five analyses: gender, age, education, residence, and political opinion. Clickin on the tab “Broken down for gender” one can see there is a significant difference between the distribution for women and men.