The Pirate Party in Iceland continues its shakeup of the local political arena. According to the latest polls the party now has a serious shot at taking part in the next Government coalition, with roughly 20 percent of all votes one week before the parliamentary elections.
Founded in 2006 by Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party movement has scored some significant victories over the years.
The greatest success is the continuing presence in the European Parliament, but in Iceland the local Pirate Party is writing history as well.
Iceland’s Pirates have a great track record already, with three members in the national Parliament. However, more may join in the future as the party has added many new supporters in recent months.
With elections just a week away the tension is growing. The Pirates have been leading the polls for most of the year and are currently neck-and-neck with the Social Democratic Alliance to become the largest party in the country.
This brings the Pirates in an unusual position where they have to start thinking about possible partners to form a coalition Government, for the first time in history.
TF spoke with Ásta Helgadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Icelandic Pirate Party, who says that the party is ready to bring the change many citizens are longing for.
“Firstly, by adopting a new constitution which has already been voted on in a non-binding referendum,” Helgadóttir says.
“This will change how Iceland functions as a democracy, transitioning into a much more meaningful democracy. The Pirates are focused on decentralization of power, access to information and civil and human rights. The pillars of any meaningful notion of democracy.”
Despite the Pirate name, copyright issues are not central to their plans. That said, they have spoken out against recent web-blocking efforts.
Iceland’s ISPs have been ordered to block access to ‘infringing’ sites such as The Pirate Bay, which the party sees as a step in the wrong direction. The party fears that these censorship efforts will lead to more stringent measures.
“These measures are not a solution and only exacerbate the problem. There needs to be a review of copyright law and how creators are compensated for their work,” Helgadóttir notes, adding that some ISPs are planning to fight the blockades in court.
While the Pirate Party movement has always appealed to the younger generations, in Iceland it receives support across all age groups. One of their main selling points is a broad and clear vision for Iceland that breaks with the current political establishment.
The Pirate Party was in part formed by supporters of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a unanimously adopted parliamentary resolution to create the optimal environment for freedom of information and free expression.
“This work is still under way but something the Pirates want to implement,” Helgadóttir says.
“The resolution brings limited liability for intermediaries, whistleblower protection, enhanced source protection, due process, defamation law reform and data protection, among other things.”
With just a week to go, there’s a realistic chance that the Pirates will book a historic election win, allowing them to govern the country during the years to come.
In that regard, the timing could hardly be any better. With the recent revelations from the Panama Papers scandal and the banking crisis fresh in mind, people are longing for change.
According to Helgadóttir, the party hasn’t set any specific goals in terms of a vote percentage they want to reach. Whatever the outcome, they will to their best to and steer the country in the right direction once again.
“We do not have a specific target in terms of percentages. Our objective is to get the ball rolling on some fundamental issues, whether that happens with 10% of the vote or 40% of the vote is not paramount.”
The parliamentary elections will take place next week, October 29.