PIRATE PARTY TAKES SWEDEN
Political party founded on anti-copyright movement wins election
With its origins in the much pursued and vilified ‘Pirate Bay’ website, the Pirate Party has become a global phenomenon, surpassing the Green Party in most EU countries. Now they have won their first national election, and have an opportunity to lead the government of Sweden.
How could a party founded in 2006, with an off-beat name, experience such a meteoric rise to power? The answer lies in the apathetic nature of the Swedish voting establishment, and the network effect. It took less than four years for the Pirates to become the third largest party in Sweden, despite being a fractal organization, with no HQ.
The Pirate Party is dedicated to facilitating the emerging information society; but this principle goes deeper than decriminalizing file sharing and rescinding patents. The very idea that information should be free resonates strongly with the ‘Net Generation’ across the world, from Sydney to San Francisco.
They know how to use their social networks to mobilize against the old and ‘obsolete’ bureaucracies, in ways that their parents can hardly grasp.
Even so, beating the center-right alliance that governed Sweden took some doing, and the Pirates did it with sheer enthusiasm. Now they face the challenge of coalition politics, and party leader Rickard Falkvinge must demonstrate a maturity that surpasses his youthfulness.
His supporters are looking for a new level of openness, transparency and yes, trust.
Will this be the first of many victories for the international Pirate movement? Does this herald the dawning of a new age in social politics, driven by the disruptive young minds of the internet generation? How will the new rules affect big business?
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
The Pirate Party | Piratpartiet
The Pirate Party wants to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens’ rights to privacy are respected. With this agenda, and only this, we are making a bid for representation in the European and Swedish parliaments.
Not only do we think these are worthwhile goals. We also believe they are realistically achievable on a European basis. The sentiments that led to the formation of the Pirate Party in Sweden are present throughout Europe. There are already similar political initiatives under way in several other member states. Together, we will be able to set a new course for a Europe that is currently heading in a very dangerous direction.
The Pirate Party only has three issues on its agenda:
-Reform of copyright law
-An abolished patent system
-Respect for the right to privacy
(from the official website www.piratpartiet.se/international/english)
2006: Pirates go to the polls
In 2006, the same year it was founded, the Pirate Party contests elections for the first time, and achieves a modest score of less than 1% of the votes. But this is only the beginning. In a networked world, growth is often exponential.
2009: Pirate Party goes to Brussels
This time the Pirates get 7.1% of the Swedish vote, and two seats in the European Parliament. Compared to the Green Party’s 10%, the networked newcomers are making huge inroads. Tellingly, most of the Pirate Party’s voters are under 30, part of the ‘Net Generation’.
The Pirate movement has also become an international phenomenon, with parties in 33 countries. On 27 September 2009, the German Pirate Party receives 2% in the German federal election. This result makes the group the largest political party outside of the parliament.
2010: Sweden’s new political force
In September the Pirate Party achieves over 21% of the vote in the Swedish National elections. “We believe in Moore’s Law,” exclaims their leader Rick Falkvinge. “Next time we will win a majority!”
The two large parties in Sweden, the Social Democrats and the Moderate Party, are supported by the older generations, and can’t quite fathom this sudden political upset. In a fragmented ‘Riksdag’, alliance politics rule, and the incumbents must accommodate this new coalition partner.
2011: EU trust collapses
The Greek deficit scandal causes a major collapse in the Euro zone. Disgusted citizens voice their anger by flocking to the Pirate Party in droves. Germany is particularly embattled by vociferous protesters, both in the streets and on the ‘net.
“We have been betrayed again by the faceless bureaucrats and money-grabbing banks,” shouts Karl Schultz, waving his pirate flag. “It’s time to get rid of ‘Big Brother’ and have some honest citizens in charge, people like us, that we can trust, who play open cards!”
The sentiment is echoed throughout the region, from Portugal to Poland, Ireland to Spain.
2014: Hail the conquering Pirates!
The political establishment in Sweden is overturned. Now the Pirates command the biggest vote from their networked supporters, and can choose their coalition partners. Already they have learned from five years in the European Parliament how to play the political game.
Industry leaders around the world watch anxiously as elections in other countries are contested by the Pirates. What will new legislation do to the digital content markets?
Warning: Hazardous thinking at work
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