Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Alțingi (English: Althing) is the national parliament: literally, the "all-thing" (or General Assembly) of Iceland. It was founded in 930 at Țingvellir, (the "assembly fields"), situated some 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 Alțing still held its sessions at Țingvellir until 1799, when it was discontinued for some decades. 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 six 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% of the electorate casts a ballot.
Unbeknownst to the ancient participants of Alþingi, Þingvellir is located between the rims of the North American and the European continental plates — perhaps a fitting symbol of Iceland's position today with its strong ties to both the Old and the New World.
- Alþingi - Official site
- General information on Althingi on the Working and History pages
- Alțingi picture gallery from www.islandsmyndir.is
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