I’m not sure whether to be amazed, impressed, shocked or dismayed to hear that Piratpartiet gain a seat in the European Parliament yesterday. Piratpartiet, translates to ‘the Pirate Party’, are a Swedish parliamentary party, that want to reform copyright law to legalize file sharing sites like ‘Pirate bay‘.
According to their website, 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.‘
Under Swedish law, Piratpartiet had to go through six distinct stages in order to become an official political party, this process started with collecting a petition of signatures in early 2006. Creating a website to harness the power of the internet, they achived the required number very quickly. This is all the more amazing, when you consider that all signatories must give there name and address, and for many that is admitting to breaking the current laws by using illegal file share sites.
While Piratpartiet have had a number of followers from the start, this number was greatly boosted by of all things a police crack downs on the ‘pirate bay’ group, with an initial speed up in sign up when charges were made and a massive increase when the organizers were later jailed.
Over the 3 years since it was set up Piratpartiet has slowly gained momentum overtaking the Green Party in December 2008, the Left Party in February 2009, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats in April 2009.
Piratpartiet is now the third largest political party in Sweden in terms of membership, and Ung Pirat, the Pirate Party’s associated youth organization, is now the largest political youth organization in Sweden. Its sudden popularity has given rise to parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide.
Alongside other fringe and extremist party victories around Europe, (including the first ‘british national party’ parliamentary seat), I’m not sure whether this is more an indication that the current political system is broken, or that the we really believe that copyright theft should be legalized.
While I understand what drives people to vote for parties like Piratpartiet, I can’t help but wonder how they will handle power. Its fine to stand for increase privacy, but how will they view hacking, police powers , anti terrorism measures. It may be that criticising government is somewhat easier than running it.
One thing that is for sure, is that as with the Obama election in the states, that the internet can used with tremendous effect to bring about politican change. At the moment this power seems to be targeted at the young, but as more and more of us start to use twitter, and blogs and the internet on a daily basis this is likely to spread.