Alþingi

10 01 2013

The Alþingi (anglicised as Althingi) is the national parliament (literally: “[the] all-thing”) of Iceland. It is the oldest extant parliamentary institution in the world.

Sessions start up on Monday after the Christmas holiday. So today the building was rather empty. Nonetheless we could not carry bags, cameras, or cell phones - huge security in Iceland! So this picture is from the web.

Sessions start up on Monday after the Christmas holiday. So today the building was rather empty. Nonetheless we could not carry bags, cameras, or cell phones – huge security in Iceland! So this picture is from the web.

The Alþingi was founded in 930 at Þingvellir, the “assembly fields” which is situated approximately 45 km east of what later became the country’s capital, Reykjavík. This event marked the beginning of the Icelandic Commonwealth. Even after Iceland’s union with Norway in 1262, the Alþingi 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 present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in 1881, of Icelandic stone.

The constitution of Iceland provides for six electoral constituencies with unequal numbers of people living in each. 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 per cent 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 Alþingi is Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir.

Today we met with the leader of the Opposition, a member of the Independence Party. The next elections are in April so the 63 seats are likely to change.
The Government Coalition:
Red = Social Democratic Alliance
Green = Left-Green Movement
Opposition Parties:
Blue = Independence Party
Forest = Progressive Party
Gray = The Movement
Teal = Independent

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