Iceland Have A Pirate Political Party And We're Very Jealous
The Debrief: The Pirate Party have 3 MPs in Iceland, their policies include a 35 hour working week and more relaxed drug laws.
Iceland’s Pirate Party have taken a big lead in polls ahead of the country’s upcoming 2017 election. Yes, you read that right, Pirate Party.
Iceland is, geographically speaking, one of the most astounding places on earth. There are volcanoes, geothermal lakes, geothermal beaches, glaciers, geezers and waterfalls so big that you can’t hear yourself think when you stand next to them because the sound of the water cascading down lava rock before crashing into itself at the bottom is so loud.
In terms of society and politics, however, the country is equally interesting. Following the global financial crash of 2008 Iceland was particularly badly hit.
Last year the Pirate Party – a small, radical and forward thinking political group went from being a marginal activism-based group with 3 MPs out of the country’s 63 in 2013’s election to being the front-runner in the country’s polls ahead of the next one. They are now polling at 37.8 %, according to the most recent figures, which means that they are coming in ahead of the two main parties which currently make up the country’s coalition government: Independence and Progressive which, together, gained just 30%..
Among the Pirates’ policy proposals are a 35-hour working week, more relaxed drug regulations laws, a rethink of copyright law and less censorship, for instance they do not believe that porn should be blocked.
The party doesn’t have an official spokesperson but one of their MPs, former Wikileaks volunteer and freedom of information activist, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, does much of their public speaking. She told the Reykjavik Grapevine,
'I definitely approach this job from the perspective of the hacker. I don’t want to learn what isn’t possible, because as soon as I know about limitations, I start to respect them. It’s better to pretend you don’t know the limitations, so you can break them.'
Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir is also a member of the pirates, she is the party’s youngest MP at 25 years old.
Speaking to the Reykjavik Grapevine she explained that ‘Iceland is an unusual place, politically speaking.’
She said, ‘there’s a void in Icelandic politics when it comes to liberal parties. In Denmark and Sweden, there are many liberal parties, so there is less space for a Pirate Party. They have parties that are consistently liberal, and have been since the ‘60s. There’s a reason Denmark was the first country to legalise porn in 1969. In Iceland there’s a lot of social conservatism, even though people want to be libertarians as far as the market, etcetera. What the Pirates are trying to do is more of social liberalism.'
The Pirate Party embody ideas which are increasingly being found around the world – people want to have their say, to change the status quo and are sick of the same old faces when it comes to their politicians.
Whether or not support in the opinion polls will translate into votes remains to be seen but, as things stand, it’s possible that in 2017 Iceland could well be run by Pirates.
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