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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Arrrr! Many Icelanders vote for pirates

Pirate Party Makes Huge Gains in Iceland’s Election

Image result for iceland pirate partyArrr! Pirates are taking over Iceland! Well, maybe not quite. But the Pirate Party more than tripled its number of seats in Parliament in Saturday’s election — from 3 seats to 10 — which is a huge victory for the anti-establishment party. The Parliament only has 63 seats total.

The Pirate Party Helped Show The PM The Door

The victory is so significant, that it forced Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson to resign. That is no small feat for a group that was just founded in 2012, following the collapse of the country’s banking industry.

Parliament is made up of an array of political parties, but the left wing — the Pirate Party, the Left-Green, and two allies — now occupies 27 seats. 

The Prime Minister’s Progressive Party, which is center-right, lost significant ground, having shrunk from 19 seats to eight. The Progressive Party’s partner, the Independence Party, won the most with 21 seats, giving the right wing a total of just 29.

In the parliamentary system, parties form coalitions in order to rule, or to have significant influence. New coalitions will have to form since none of the factions have a majority of the seats. The Pirate Party declared its intent to join with three or four left-wing and centrist parties, an effort that could end up as the ruling majority.

The Pirates made their gains on a platform of progressive values, including:
  • direct democracy
  • governmental and corporate transparency
  • the redistribution of wealth
  • a focus on civil rights
  • a right to privacy
  • freedom of information and expression
The Pirate Party Is Young But Mighty

A significant note for the United States to heed is that the Pirate Party is a young party — both in terms of how old it is and how old its membership is. According to the New York Times, 40% are under the age of 30.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, one of the founders of the Pirate Party, told Agence France-Presse:
We are a platform for young people, for progressive people who shape and reshape our society. Like Robin Hood, because Robin Hood was a pirate, we want to take the power from the powerful to give it to the people.
Immediately after the election, she told her cheering supporters:
Whatever happens, we have created a wave of change in the Icelandic society.
Jonsdottir isn’t the only one who is clear on that point. Political consultant Andres Jonsson noted that whichever faction ends up with a ruling coalition, the situation will not be a return to the status quo:
The traditional party system has been disrupted. We are not seeing big movements of people who feel that they are able to relate with the messages of the big coalition parties. Changes are going to come from the outside, not from inside the old parties.
Again, America might want to perk up its ears and pay attention to the groundswell of dissatisfaction in Iceland — and especially to the Pirate Party’s motto:


So have the Pirates taken over Iceland? Not quite yet. But stay tuned.

Go Pirates!

Deborah Montesano is a political blogger and social activist. In spite of years of monitoring the political scene in America, she remains optimistic about the future.