Shock Wave on the Ice: The Pirate Party Could Win Iceland’s National Elections Next Saturday, Grab Power

Pirate Party (Sweden)

The Pirate Party of Iceland, founded in 2012 to champion direct democracy and internet freedom, is projected to win Saturday’s general election and could end up leading Iceland’s next government, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In June, Hacked reported the the Pirate Party had become the largest political party in the country according to polling results.

The probable victory if the Pirate Party in Iceland has been trending in remote corners of the internet for a few weeks, but now the mainstream press is taking notice, and the mainstream political establishment is beginning to fear.

According to a survey conducted by the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Iceland, the Pirate Party is expected to take 22.6 percent of the popular vote, beating the ruling center-right Independence Party, which is expected to take 21.1 percent.

Like other Pirate Parties around the world, the Pirate Party of Iceland is an offspring of the original Pirate Party, founded in Sweden by Rick Falkvinge in 2006. “On January 1 2006 at 20:30 CET, the Swedish and first Pirate Party was launched by me setting up an ugly website,” remembers Falkvinge in a post titled “The First Ten Years of the Pirate Party: Lessons Learned and Road Ahead.” The conclusion of Falkvinge’s ten years Pirate history and roadmap reads:

We’re champions of free speech. This means allowing nudity in the United States and hate speech in Germany, for example, despite being politically inconvenient and almost taboo.

In view of the recent wave of attacks to freedom of thought and calls for the dullest “politically correct” (PC) conformity, Falkvinge’s words are refreshing and welcome.

The Election Manifesto 2016 of the Pirate Party of Iceland provides a clear, short, no-nonsense outline of the politics of the Party. According to the Icelandic Pirates, the increased freedom of information, freedom of expression and freedom of the press is the foundation on which a healthier democracy can be built, alongside direct democracy and a strong commitment to defending personal privacy.

“We want to protect the individual’s right to self-determination by strengthening civil rights and increasing freedom of choice when it comes to health, employment and lifestyle,” notes the Pirate Manifesto. “We want to ensure a healthy democratic right to self-determination through active public participation and supervision of those in power. Modern information technology provides innovative new ways to increase democratic participation and public influence.”

“We want Iceland to lead the way when it comes to legally protecting freedom of expression and freedom of information, as stipulated in the June 16th 2010 parliamentary resolution on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative,” continues the Manifesto.

It is also urgently necessary to ensure that the government respects its citizens’ right to privacy, both online and offline. An important step in that direction would be the abolition of data retention laws and laws permitting the government and private companies to gather and sell personal information about individuals.

“Voting for the Pirates is an expression of protest against the establishment,” said University of Iceland political scientist Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, as reported by the WSJ. “Their support reflects voters’ hopes that political renewal through replacing the established elites is possible and desirable.”

That widespread sentiment has fueled the impressive growth of new anti-establishment political parties in Europe, including Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, and Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy.

The Party of Decentralization and Online Freedom LogoBut the Pirates are something else. As the Party of the Internet and crypto-anarchy, they firmly stand in favor of decentralization and online freedom, against a mainstream political establishment that harasses peaceful citizens and monitors them 24/7.

“The Pirates are focused on decentralization of power, access to information and civil and human rights,” said Ásta Helgadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Icelandic Pirate Party, in a recent TorrentFreak interview.

According to Helgadóttir, the Pirate Party is ready to bring the change many citizens are longing for. The MP added that the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative “brings limited liability for intermediaries, whistleblower protection, enhanced source protection, due process, defamation law reform and data protection, among other things.” The Pirate Party of Iceland is persuaded that the measures taken by many governments to block access to “copyright infringing” websites like The Pirate Bay are “a step in the wrong direction.”

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.

Images from Wikimedia Commons and The Pirate Bay.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.