How Does Democracy Work in Iceland? Practices, values and understanding

When The National Parliament of Iceland appointed a special investigative committee to investigate and analyze the processes leading to the collapse of the three main banks in Iceland in 2008. It also appointed a special working group to discuss the ethics and practices in connection with the collapse. The main results of the working group highlight the weaknesses of the democratic infrastructure in Icelandic society, the governments and regulatory organizations complacency and the malpractice of politicians and the media.

The group laid the foundations for a theoretical analysis of these problems and it is the aim of this project to deepen the analysis of the democratic infrastructure of Icelandic society.

The project analyzes Icelandic ideas about democracy, the prevailing understanding, practices and values, by Habermas′ model of liberal, republican and deliberative democracy. The hypothesis is that the political history of the Icelandic republic is based on a combination of liberal and republican understanding of democracy. The deliberative understanding has, however, been ignored and that can explain much of the problems of Icelandic democracy both before and after the collapse of the financial system.

The purpose of the research is to analyze both the processes that were most prominent in politics and governance until the collapse of the Icelandic banks in 2008 and the social and political crisis that followed.

The research is based on an interdisciplinary approach which uses analytical methods from ethics, political science, administration studies, media studies and theories about democracy education.

See also the Report of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC)

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