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Under the Icelandic constitution, the President enjoys immunity from criminal prosecutions as long as the Parliament permits it.

Constitution of Iceland, Article 11, Paragraph 2

The President may not be prosecuted on a criminal charge except with the consent of Althingi.

Hypothetically, if the Icelandic Parliament (i.e. Althing) consent to the President being prosecuted, and the President is successfully convicted of a crime, what happens next?

Question:

  • Is the Icelandic President constitutionally required to resign if he/she is convicted of a crime (with the consent of the Althing)?

  • If the Icelandic President is convicted of a crime and refuses to resign, is it possible for him/her to remain as head of state while serving prison sentences?

  • Given that it seems to require only a simple majority vote for the Parliament to permit prosecution against President, would this mechanism function as an alternative form of impeachment and removal process with exceedingly low threshold?

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  • It would depend upon the charge, I would think. A sentence of a fine for a minor criminal traffic offense would probably have a different outcome than a conviction for murder. A long sentence of incarceration would make it, as a practical matter, impossible for the President to discharge the President's duties. – ohwilleke Mar 22 at 20:33
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There is nothing in the Icelandic constitution that would compel a President convicted of a crime to resign.

A President can be removed from office by a three-fourths vote of Parliament plus a nationwide referendum under Article 11(3):

The President may be removed from office before his term expires if approved by a majority in a plebiscite called pursuant to a resolution adopted by three-fourths of the Members of Althingi. This plebiscite shall be held within two months from the date of adoption by Althingi of the resolution. The President shall not perform his duties from the time the resolution is adopted by Althingi until the results of the plebiscite are known.

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