Monday, May 23, 2011

the althing

Wikipedia | The Alþingi, Anglicised variously as Althing or Althingi, is the national parliament—literally, "(the) all-thing" (= general assembly)—of Iceland. The Althingi is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still extant.[1] It was founded in 930 at Þingvellir, (the "assembly fields" or "Parliament Plains"), situated approximately 45 km east of what would later become the country's capital, Reykjavík, and this event marked the beginning of the Icelandic Commonwealth. Even after Iceland's union with Norway, the Althing still held its sessions at Þingvellir until 1799, when it was discontinued for 45 years. It was restored in 1844 and moved to Reykjavík, where it has resided ever since. The present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in 1881, of hewn Icelandic stone.

The constitution of Iceland provides for six electoral constituencies with the possibility of an increase to seven. The constituency boundaries are fixed by legislation. Each constituency elects nine members. In addition, each party is allocated seats based on its proportion of the overall national vote in order that the number of members in parliament for each political party should be more or less proportional to its overall electoral support. A party must have won at least five percent of the national vote in order to be eligible for these proportionally distributed seats. Political participation in Iceland is very high: usually over 85 per cent of the electorate casts a ballot (87.7% in 2003). The current president of the Althing is Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir.


arnach said...

While the Alþingi is a great and eduring example of people-centric leadership, it's continued existence can probably be attributed to the social adaptations necessary for a human society to simply survive on such an isolated geography.  Which wouldn't have even been possible but for the abundant geothermal power so evident there today (cf. Greenland).  In any case, Spain has no such uniform fundamental "gotta get along/we're all in it together/sink-or-swim" social structure, nor do we have that here in the US.  No common enemy when all we see are those within.

I sure do like that fringe/proportional representation idea though...there's no way the two entrenched political parties would be able to fight on every front.  How many 2010 elections were decided in favor of a Dem when the Reps and Teas split the so-called right vote?  What happens when some reasonable third-party reaches enough critical mass to garner the notice of the general populace?  Oh wait, that's happened here before:  it's almost exactly how the Republican party came to replace the Whig party in the 1850s , leading to the election in 1860 of A. Lincoln.  Remember that?  Me neither.

While we're at it. let's all uniformly implement instant-runoff or some other form of preferential voting.  That's how Lincoln got nominated for the Republican ticket in the first place.  Remember?  :-(

CNu said...

In terms of partisan representation, where do you suppose the lion's share of ahistorical, uninformed, anti-scientific, and magical-thinking morons are concentrated in the American body politic today?

See, I'd love to tell you it's the teabuggers,  and keep it as simple as that, but the fact of the matter is that if the republicans had not played the low-hanging fruit opportunism of the southern strategy from the time of Millhouse Nixon forward, there would be a great many more black republicans running around nowadays.

The big hump of the black bell curve tends to be magical-thinking and socially conservative, but not at all confused about closing ranks with folks who out-and-out hate them on racist lines - which is precisely why the republicans and the teabuggers get almost no black love today, notwithstanding a great deal of shared social conservatism (professed if not practiced)

CNu said...

Re-Ron was able to extend to Gorbachev et al an olive branch of
commonality he would never have considered extending to black americans.