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Pirate Party Wins 7.1% of Swedish Vote, Enters European Parliament (torrentfreak.com)
177 points by mapleoin on June 7, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments

The Pirate Party has limited information in English and I know it can be hard to understand what they really stand for. So I compiled a summery of their program. Keep in mind that this is only a summery and mostly only says what they stand for and not why they stand for it. This is also not an official document.

The Pirate Party’s cornerstones are; the right to privacy, culture must be open/free and that patents and private monopolies hurt society.

Privacy: Secrecy of letters should apply to all forms of communication, including digital. No data retention and no surveillance without substantial prior crime suspicion. No anti-terrorism legislation, current legislation is sufficient. New legislation risk being used as a tool of oppression. The individuals right to control ones own personal information must be strengthened. Respect for human rights without exceptions.

Freedom of information: Swedish freedom of information laws, access to government documents and communications, should be applied to the EU. All government archives and documents should be available in open formats. Use of open formats and open source in the public sector, including schools, should be encouraged.

Open culture: Copyright should be reasonable, balanced and with societies best in mind. The copyright holder’s commercial monopoly should be limited to five years. You should have the right to remix copyrighted works, with some clearly stated exceptions. All non-commercial distribution, consumption and remixing of copyrighted and non-copyrighted works should be legal and encouraged. Trademarks should be kept.

Private monopolies: The successive removal of all patents, including software and medical patents. Patents force scientists to keep research findings secret instead of sharing them. Competition should be based on innovation, consumer benefit, and quality.

That's a nice summary of their platform, but it is perhaps also worth noting that one of the defendents in the Pirate Bay case (Carl Lundström) is a neo-Nazi, who has a history of funding small single-issue parties and using them to push extremist right-wing views.

Carl Lundström and The Pirate Bay are not affiliated with The Pirate Party. As far as I know the rest of The Pirate Bay do not share Carl Lundströms views. The connection between The Pirate Bay and Carl Lundström is also very loose.

The Pirate Party has very clear views on civil liberties and human rights for everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, sex, age, sexual preference, handicap or political view. Most political analysts actually think that The Pirate Party, with its large number of youth votes, prevented the right-wing nationalist party in Sweden from reaching the European Parliament.

Thanks for clearing that up. One of the problems with small parties is how easily they can be derailed, especially by someone who is a) dedicated to the task, and b) well-funded.

As a consequence of The Pirate Party very narrow focus, and decision not to take a stand in any other issues, it would be hard to introduce other issues.

Currently I only know of two people who work for the party full-time. The party founder Rick Falkvinge, an former entrepreneur who quit his job to devote himself to the party. When his money ran out he asked the members for contributions and gets a small amount from a large number of members each month. The other person who works full-time with the party is Christian Engström, also an entrepreneur who sold his company for a profit and spent five years as unpaid activist at the FFII lobbying against software patents. He is the party's first pick for the European Parliament. The party also gets founding from several other sources. Some of Sweden's "Internet Icons" publicly supports the party.

It would be really interesting to see what all the great American entrepreneurs could do if there was a chance for a smaller party to actually get seats.

I'm not sure the point about patents is right. The whole purpose of patents is to get new ideas published, by giving inventors some of the same protections they would have if they kept ideas secret. Removing patents would increase secrecy, not decrease it.

I think this is the greatest thing to happen in european politics in a long time. Times have changed, and this is a strong message to the establishment that things will need to change a bit regarding some laws!

Look, I dislike the DMCA as much as anyone, but I don't really think that a party founded on piracy is really a great thing to happen to European politics. At least, not in the respect you imply (that we're going to tell those recording industry fat cats they're not the boss of us!).

If they can push honest and realistic discussion of the issues, however, that could have a lot of impact. We all like to laugh at the publishing industry (music, then movies, now newspapers) for being unable to keep up with the times, but just as the web has introduced post-scarity to publishing, so will nanotech destroy the goods industry, robotics destroy the services industry, and, eventually, AI destroy info work. My hope is that we can learn from what is happening now (and try to understand the success of e.g. Trent Reznor, and determine whether his model would work if not for its novelty), and be better prepared for the future. But no one is talking about it...ideally, the Pirate Party will change that, rather than just explain to old dudes why torrent indexing isn't illegal.

The Swedish Pirate Party has a horrible name. Because its political platform is all about preserving the right to personal integrity — not piracy.

Certainly, they also believe that copyright and patent law needs to fundamentally change.

And certainly, preserving the right to privacy on the internet — to the same standard that it is guaranteed through other means of communications — would make it pretty much impossible to shut down piracy. But that's a side-effect, not the expressed goal of the party.

I'm Swedish myself, I've studied their platform closely, and I voted for them. Not because I want free stuff — but because I feel that the EU parliament needs more people in it who are viciously opposed to the idea of destroying our basic civil liberties.

Many other candidates from other parties are sympathetic to this (as opposed to their respective party platforms). But — only a vote for the Pirate Party would shake the "old parties" up sufficiently in order to make personal integrity the party platform. And I think we're going to see exactly that kind of progression in Sweden across party lines.

I'm not a big fan of the name either. But it's our opponents who call us "pirates" so maybe it's about reclaiming the label (like the gay community has done with "queer").

I think, as the PP gains vote share in Sweden and elsewhere, many of the other parties are going to steal their policies. Which is good.

>Because its political platform is all about preserving the right to personal integrity

This might be a lost-in-translation thing, but I don't know what you mean by this. Integrity means something like honesty and strength of character, which, obviously, the RIAA et al have no control over. Could you clarify? Do you just mean privacy?

And okay, I believe you that the party's platform involves privacy rights more than anything else. And that is good, and even important, but I still think it's hyperbolic to call their election "the greatest thing to happen in european politics in a long time" simply because they support web privacy. I get the impression a lot of people conflate privacy intrustion with Big Brother, which doesn't seem sound.

The Swedish word for integrity (integritet) can be used in two senses: the property of having a consistent value system or a right to privacy. tjogin most likely intended the latter meaning.

I'm curious about the distinction between Big Brother and large-scale logging/filtering/monitoring in electronic systems without court orders by the government. Maybe I've misunderstood the term "Big Brother"?

Whether you think the result is "the greatest thing to happen in European politics in a long time" clearly depends on your political views. It could be seen as an indication that a number of people make at least some effort to stand up for civil liberties (an issue I hear some consider more than "important"). Also, "long time" is not particularly well defined.. ;) I'm just guessing here of course, joel_feather didn't say much about why he thought this was such a great thing.

>I'm curious about the distinction between Big Brother and large-scale logging/filtering/monitoring in electronic systems without court orders by the government. Maybe I've misunderstood the term "Big Brother"?

Well, the distinction I'm making is between keeping logs/records and abusing those logs in order to infringe on other civil liberties, a la Big Brother in 1984. What was evil about Big Brother was not the monitoring/recording, but how it was used. I know some disagree with me on this, but I do think there's a distinction.

Distinction understood. Many think that the risk of misuse * potential cost is unacceptably high however. Misuse is also relative to current political fashions and those tend to change over time.

If you want, surveillance on that scale makes the system unstable.

Sweden has a history of a government that registers details about those with views not aligned with the sitting government without legal or, I would claim, moral right to do so: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IB_affair. More recently, there was a potential leak from FRA http://www.thelocal.se/12778/20080702/ - as in the recently passed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FRA_law. Of course, illegality does not imply immorality/misuse, but it might explain why Swedes are weary of what lines their government might cross.

The activities have not verifiably, as far as I know, been seriously misused in Sweden (in the sense that people have been killed, tortured, or wrongfully imprisoned), though one other European country comes to mind where that did happen, most seem to agree, in the 20th century.

Thus, my guess is that many people assume logging/monitoring personal information implies misuse of that information because they consider the risk*potential cost of the latter unacceptably high, even though it's not strictly an implication. The assumption should be explicit though, so I agree on the importance of making the distinction.

Alright, I think we're on the same page. I don't really know anything about Swedish history, so thanks for the information.

That distinction is likely temporary though.

People always say that, and it's ooooh scary, but I don't think it's justified. I'm happy for you to try and convince me otherwise, of course, but I won't accept it at face value.

I share the feeling of optimism, but must point out that the European Parliament is where a lot of good ideas go to die, and it has little in the way of real power. Members include representatives of parties who wan to leave Europe and other relatively fringe thinkers. So it's significant, but not momentously so.

That's a common misconception, actually the European Union has a lot of power, and member states are obliged to align their national laws to those of the EU.

From the wikipedia article on EU: "The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, ensuring the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. It maintains common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. A common currency, the euro, has been adopted by sixteen member states constituting the Eurozone. "


The problem is that for the common man in the various member states EU is seen as a monolithic bureaucracy placed in a country far away. Many don't realise it's power. This is the problem that the members of parlaiment face.

European Union =/= European Parliament. I suggest that the EU Commission and Council of Ministers, along with the European court, have more influence on the development of the EU than its Parliament; which is not to say that the European Parliament is entirely toothless. The election of a Pirate Party member to that body, while interesting, is likely to have only marginal effect.

The parlaiment, along with the council is the highest legislative body of the union and yields a lot of power. From Wikipedia: "The European Parliament has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world."

Of course, as you say, a single representative from the Pirate Party will only have marginal effect. Those are the rules of a democracy.

I suggest you ponder the rest of that wikipedia article, or since you live in Europe, look at its day-to-day workings for a while. As a fellow European, surely you are aware that in practice the EUP is a punching bag for national governments and widely perceived as a sideshow, which is why nations fight tooth and nail to preserve their commission representation.

Given its inability to propose legislation, it is hamstrung compared to a typical national legislature, not to mention being riven by petty disputes of language nationalism and so forth. With the best of intentions, how is the new Pirate Party member going to bring about a provocative debate on the meaning of copyright and intellectual property when everything has to go through a tabling committee and debates normally impose a 1 minute time limit for speakers. Hell, I'm an ardent europhile and even I think it's politically moribund.

One upside of this, though, is that I ever move back to Europe I'll consider running for a seat...I figure it ought to be relatively easy to get elected given the general public apathy that prevails around euro elections :)

I agree with you, mostly. However there is one significant effect of the election of the Pirate Part: Swedish political parties have been given a rude awakening and if the Pirate Party continues to gain they will need to face up to the fact that a lot of people want more relaxed copyright legislation, or the Pirate Party may be swept into the Swedish parliament next.

(keep in mind: they were polling around 5%, and many dismissed them, claiming that their key demographic of <30's "doesn't vote" - instead they performed better than the polls indicated; that's going to scare a lot of politicians into rethinking their stance)

It's also bound to make a lot of people think seriously about trying to get equivalent platforms in place in other EU countries.

It's an amazing showing for a "single issue" (not really, but almost) party running in only a single, small country.

Oh absolutely. And it's a welcome counterweight to the fringe right-wing parties (I'm looking at you BNP) and the various communists.

There's a recent WSJ article on the topic that's worth a read:

"Serving in Europe's Parliament Is A Cushy Job, but What's the Point? ... Pay, Perks Are Good, Powers Not So Much; Struggling to Get Voters Interested" http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124390393595074827.html

have you seen the rest of the results? PP have done well - one cant help feeling on the back of TPB publicity. But the rest of the left parties have suffered heavy losses.

We're looking at a strong conservative EU parliament as far as I can tell. I fear the PP will have little impact (I confess I am not a huge fan but they do stand for some issues I believe strongly in).

Indeed, and when looking at Sweden in particular, the "Left party", which is the only other major party in Sweden that are as open to copyright reform as the Pirate Party, lost out heavily, more or less offsetting the Pirate Party gains.

Personally I saw the results as horrible (even the BNP got seats) but the Pirate Party win was at least a little beacon of light, though I mostly see their win as a kick in the ass for the other parties that will hopefully see them starting to reform their own copyright platforms or risk losing the rest of the youth vote too.

well I guess the hope is similar parties can get a break in other countries (hopefully, for me, w/o worrying links to TPB et all).

Your right, it does validate copyright reform as a political platformn important to the people.

Interesting reaction from Tom Watson MP, until last week the UK government minister for e-democracy and (more or less) the Internet:

"That Sir, is a seismic result, and a big warning to a very large number of vested interests."


The Pirate Party and friends are, in many ways, the new face of the libertarian left in Europe.

    The Pirate Party and friends are, in many ways,
    the new face of the libertarian left in Europe.
Avoid 'left', 'right' - it lacks meaning but alienates people. I'm a hardline libertarian who would be characterised as 'right wing' by those who care for such terms, but identify with the pirate platform.

I suspect the PP would neither classify themselves as "left" or "right".

Tom Watson's right. If the MPAA/RIAA/IFPI continue to push for bad new laws, such as the ACTA treaty or 3-strikes, they will find Pirate Parties getting significant numbers of votes across Europe. And once that happens, mainstream parties will start copying PP policies in order to woo back the voters.

In other words, the content corporations have probably lost the ability to take away our Internet from us, or impose any new restrictions on digital technology, throughout the EU. And there may be a rolling back of existing restrictions, such as the ban on circumventing DRM.

"The Pirate Party and friends are, in many ways, the new face of the libertarian left in Europe."

I'm curious: What distinguishes "libertarian left" from plain old libertarian?

Focus, mainly. Libertarians have long been aligned with the right in America because they have emphasized the economic parts of their platform, at the expense of the social ones.

I'm not sure it really translates - it's a post-socialist phenomenon, and socialism still seems like a swearword your side of the pond.

Take issues like gun control, social welfare, environmentalism... the modern European hard left is, in general, strongly in favour of all of the above. Their platform's libertarian in that it's mostly against government intervention in personal lives, and therefore pro-marriage equality, drug decriminalisation, liberalisation of copyright, etc etc etc. You'll find a lot of anti-globalisation fellow travellers too.

The influences are much more things like anarcho-syndicalism, Christiania (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freetown_Christiania), that kind of thing.

I think we're in total agreement. Libertarians share platforms with both the left and the right; we call them "left-libertarians" when they find themselves mostly voting in alignment with the left, and "right-libertarians" when they find themselves mostly voting in agreement with the right.

European libertarians, coming from the background you describe, much more often find themselves on the left than the right.

Libertarian parties in Europe are largely seen as centre to centre-right, as they tend to focus a lot on "freedom to property" alongside other rights, whereas the European left overall see property rights as sometimes limiting rights and so not automatically (or ever, depending on how far to the left you go) desirable.

But it's muddy - the UK Liberal Democratic Party, for example, was founded by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (splinter from Labour).

Europe does however have self-proclaimed liberal and libertarian spanning the spectrum from centre-left to far right, and a bunch of far left parties that strongly adhere to large parts of libertarian ideologies.

In fact, personally during school I was campaigning for a Marxist party and during a school debate I almost reduced a "far right libertarian" to tears by agreeing with him at very inopportune (for him) moments. He was horrified at being associated with someone far left, and just plain didn't understand that the majority of our party platforms were aligned - it was almost only on the issue of protection of property rights to means of production that we disagreed, and the fact that I was for a far more drastic reduction of government power.

I was talking to someone from the UK Libertarian Party -- http://www.lpuk.org/ -- the other day. He broadly agreed with me that the UKLP cared about the rich and didn't care about the poor.

I regard myself as a left libertarian -- I think the government needs to get off people's backs, that people are usually better at making decisions for themselves than faceless bureaucracies are, that the people should control the government and not the other way round.

I also think government should govern for the benefit of everyone, not just the rich, and that the government's attitude to the poor shouldn't be "tough shit".

Just got back from the election party in Stockholm. One seat in the EU parliament is just what (pp) needs for the Riksdagen election 2010. Most likely, there are differences hidden under the purple surface of the party that will show now. The maturity process is started.

Will be interesting to see if this spawns copycats throughout Europe. At the very least the established parties should take notice. Infopolitics is here to stay.

I've read that most of the power is tied up in committees (http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story...). If it's like the US House of Representatives, that means seniority is necessary for any real power. Legislation by committee is also a great way to wield power behind closed doors, since the media rarely reports on what they do.

Is there an EU equivalent to Congressional Quarterly (http://cq.com/)?

no seniority plays no role that's a very us specific thing

Just to put it slightly in perspective: here in the UK the BNP (far right racist party) won a seat too. Getting the seat is just part 1 - next the PP have to cut through the red tape and get the message out to the rest of the EU.

(I must apologise for my countrymen btw, I never thought it would actually happen :()

The Swedish variant of BNP almost got a seat too.

It's to be expected, of course, with an economic meltdown. Nothing brings votes to right wing extremists like a crisis and someone else to blame it on - this time it's the muslims who get the blame for everything that's wrong in the world.

This is one of the most surreal pieces of news I've seen in a while. No offense to any pirates. Arrr.

So people voted on a party which wants to deal with copyright issues of the distributed music/video content (as its main goal)... A party that will now be able to have its say about national and European issues. It's a bit interesting that such an issue can be so high on people's priority list. Not that I'm opposed to what they want to do, but I'm not sure what to think of Sweden right now:

Is it the best country to live in? One where people don't come across bigger problems in their daily life?

Or is it that all standard political parties in Sweden crossed the line which many parties in any country are very close to - not doing anything, having every possible populist claim in their programme, getting old...

I voted for them in Germany, but not because I want to pirate music and movies. The bigger issues are censorship (a huge attack is just going on in Germany, giving government the power to block any internet sites they want with no possibility for the victims to do anything about it), software patents (and other patents), privacy rights and so on.

I used to vote green and might do so again, but I have lost faith in "eco power" - I just think some things that are labeled eco these days don't deserve it, and I am not sure if the greens understand it.

Ultimately I figured I am working in the IT industry, and therefore the pirate party is closest to my interests.

My view of democracy has become a lot more cynical, too (not only because of the extreme wasting of tax money in the wake of the recent economic crisis). That reminds me: transparency is another huge, huge point I expect from the pirate party - I think they want to make politics more transparent (employing modern digital means), and that seems to me to be the best way to create a sane society and reduce tax payer exploitation.

I think democracy is just another "war" - it is not about finding a common goal for society, it is about members of society struggling to get the most out of society (that is, exploit society a ka the other members to the max). So why not vote to get "my share".

Not sure if you're in the US, but reading your comment, I can't help but linking to an explanation of how legislative seats are dealt out in Sweden (and many other countries). It's not a thing like we have in the US:


In such a system, it's not uncommon to see a few seats go to minor parties. In the US, we'd surely see some Libertarian and Greens in congress if we had such a system. However, the US system is more conducive to 2-party politics because of the way the rules are defined, which is why we see it here and not so much elsewhere.

So, its a surprising result if you're used to 2 parties, but not so unexpected when multiparty politics is the norm.

Yeah - I'm from Europe and used to multiparty government. Yet every small party I've seen, that actually targeted young people and specifically issues that people <30 care about, never gets to be popular. And they certainly don't get 2 seats in EU.

I was just wondering why it happened in Sweden of all countries... was The Pirate Bay court case really the trigger, or is it connected to how Swedish people act, or was it something else?

They've taken a talking point that is shared between liberals, libertarians, communists, anarchists and some socialists/social democrats and that directly affect peoples lives (a huge percentage of people share files etc. and don't see it as something wrong) at a time when big media are trying to tell people they're all criminals.

That's probably key to their success - they can take voters from across the spectrum who don't have a voice at all in large parties (the closest in Sweden perhaps being the socialist/communist Vensterpartiet - Left Party - which also wants to significantly limit copyright) but who have liberal tendencies.

This has been brewing for a while, and it'll likely spread outside of Sweden, limited by non-proportional voting in some countries. What is particular about Sweden is that Sweden had one of the most liberal policies on copyright in Europe to start with - non-commercial copying for "personal use" (including sharing with friends) was (is it still?) legal. This is a right that was ingrained. So when these rights are being taken away, it's natural you get a backlash.

The Pirate Party has been around in Sweden for a few years already:


Interestingly, in my own district of Berlin, probably the most left-leaning in Germany, they also polled at 3.4%, whereas the chancellor's party (Christian Democrats) only polled at 9%.

This isn't so much about the Pirate Bay as something that's been brewing for a while already. This was, in some senses, just a tipping point for the group as they'll now have a voice outside of Sweden.

To my mind this is similar to the ascendency of the The Greens in the 80s as they landed in their first positions of real influence. The particularly interesting thing there is that the effect of real power was an increasing pragmatism at pushing the original core agenda; I wouldn't be surprised if we see something similar evolving in the Pirate Party in the coming years.

They're campaigning on a much broader digital rights/anti-surveillance techno-libertarian platform. That's going to appeal to a certain class of (probably urban, young, middle-class) voter.

Young yes. exit polls show that The Pirate Party and Green Party gets more votes then any other party in the age group 18-30. Middle-class maybe. Hard to tell really at this point, but from personal experiences I would say it's really a mix. Urban not-so-much. The Pirate Party made a quite even election throughout Sweden's 21 different counties, ranging from 5.5% to 8.0% with a total result of 7.1%. Compared to the centre party ranging from 3.0% to 14.6% with a total result of 5.5%.

That's interesting. I doubt the Pirate Party would get much play in rural Britain; the Eurosceptics of UKIP (common-or-garden get-off-my-lawn types) are cleaning up there.

(And the bloody fascists have got at least one MEP. Probably two. sigh.)

I just wanted to highlight part of a BBC news report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8088309.stm):

Sweden's Pirate Party, which wants to legalise internet file sharing,

They also got mentioned right after the far-right parties. I find it a bit worrying that mainstream media is still vewing them in this light. It smacks of not being taken seriously still - I wonder how that can be addressed?

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