Forsetakjör - 01.11.1997, Blaðsíða 25

Forsetakjör - 01.11.1997, Blaðsíða 25
Forsetakjör 1996 23 in the referenda of 1908 (on the prohibition of alcohol imports) and 1916 (on civil duty work), when the number of voters on the electoral roll was identical to that for the general election held at the same time. Different rules applied to the election of nationally elected members of the Upper Chamber of the Althingi (who under the constitutional amendments of 1915 replaced royally appointed members) on five occasions between 1916 and 1930, as well as in the referendum of 1933 (on the repeal of the prohibition of alcohol imports). Figures for these elec- tions have not been included. Between 1874 and 1903 the nuntber of voters on the electoral roll was equivalentto 9-10% of the population. The Constitution of 1874 stipulated that the right to vote was reserved for males of unblemished character who were citizens of the Danish BQngdom and had been domiciled in their constituency for at least one year. Voting rights were further restricted to the following categories: Farmers having grazing rights, town citizens paying at least 8 krónur a year in local govemment tax, independent workers (i. e. non- farming wage-earners) paying at least 12 krónur a year in local govemment tax, govemment officials and holders of certain educational titles. The minimum age for voting was set at 25 years. The right to vote was withheld from recipients of community poor relief who had not repaid their financial support to the authorities or had such a claim rescinded, and from those declared incompetent to manage their finances. An amendment to the Constitution in 1903 lowered the minimum local govemment tax required for suffrage, previ- ously set at 8 or 12 krónur, to 4 krónur a year and independent male workers were given the right to vote. In the period 1908-1914 the number of voters on the electoral rol 1 amounted to 14-15% of the population. Women and dependent workers (i.e. farm workers and others who were included in their employer’s household) gained limited suffrage with the constitutional amendments of 1915. Their minimum age requirement was set at 40 years and was to be lowered by one year each year for 15 years, resulting in equal age limits for all voters by 1930. Further- more, the local govemment tax requirement of 4 krónur was abolished. Flowever, being bom in Iceland or having been domiciled in the country for the past ftve years was made a new requirement for suffrage. The ratio of voters to the total population subsequently went up to 30% and gradually increased in the following years as the minimum age limit for new voters was progressively lowered. In 1920, a new Constitution abolished the special age limit for women and dependent workers. The condition of being born in Iceland was replaced by the requirement of being an Icelandic citizen and having had domicile in the country for the five years immediately prior to the election. The ratio of voters to the total population then rose to 45%. A constitutional amendment in 1934 brought down the age limit for suffrage to 21 years, and acceptance of local govem- ment assistance no longer precluded the right to vote. Moreo- ver, the requirement of a domicile in the constituency for one year or more was abolished. Subsequently, voters became a majority of the nation for the first time, around 56% of the population. Changes in the proportion of voters to the total population between 1934 and 1967 were caused by demographic devel- opments. The ratio of voters rose to around 60% in the 1940s as large cohorts reached voting age. A low in the number of births in the 1930s meant that small cohorts were added to the number of voters in the 1950s, and combined with a large increase in the number of births in the late 1940s and 1950s this caused a fall in the proportion of voters to 54% of the total population. In 1968 the Constitution was amended to lower the mini- mum voting age to 20 years. The requirements of a five-year domicile in Iceland before the election and of fmancial independence were abolished. Henceforth, it was sufficient to have domicile in the country and not to have been deprived of legal majority. As a consequence, the proportion of voters to the population rose to 56%. From that time onwards, the ratio continued to rise, reaching 64% in the general election in 1983. This development was caused by changes in the age distribution of the population, which meant that the number of people under voting age remained fairly constant while large cohorts were added to the group of voters. The right to vote was extended once more in 1984 through new amendments to the Constitution. The minimum voting age was lowered from 20 to 18 years. Deprivation of legal majority no longer caused the loss of the right to vote, and an unblem- ished character was no longer a condition for voting rights. Furthermore, voting rights were granted to those who had been domiciled in Iceland at some time during the four years immediately prior to the next 1 December before the election. These changes had their impact first in the general election of 1987 when the ratio of voters to the population rose to 70% In 1991, the General Elections Act was again amended and now it states that the right to vote in general elections is held by every Icelandic citizen who has reached the age of 18 on election day and is domiciled in Iceland. Furthermore, an Icelandic citizen who has previously been domiciled in Iceland has the right to vote for eight years after emigration, counting from 1 December prior to election day, and shall be entered on the electoral roll in the municipality of his or her last domicile in Iceland. Such a citizen also has the right to vote after this eight-year period has expired, provided he or she applies to Statistics Iceland to be entered on the electoral roll. The application form assumes that the applicant declares his or her Icelandic citizenship. Upon approval, Statistics Iceland informs the applicant and the municipality con- cemed. The decision is valid for four years counting from 1 December following the date of application. Summary 2 shows the proportion of voters domiciled abroad in elections since 1987. In the presidential election in 1996, 7,766 voters on the electoral roll were domiciled abroad, equivalent to 4.0% of all voters or 2.9% of the population. A very large increase in the number of voters residing abroad between the 1995 and 1996 elections is due to an unusually high level of emigration during this period. In addition to the reasons described above, the increase in the proportion of voters since 1968 can also be explained by changes in the domicile registration of students abroad. Icelandic students abroad have normally retained their domi- cile and voting rights in Iceland. According to the Domicile Act, students abroad are entitled to keep their domicile in the municipality where they last resided in Iceland. In 1969, a



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