Iceland's Pro-Transparency Pirate Party Eyes a Big Election

The Pirate Party has the support of over a fifth of the population. 


Iceland’s Pirate Party is making political waves. A new poll shows that the fringe party that prizes transparency is in first place to win the country’s general elections with 22.6 percent of the vote.

Conducted by the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Iceland, these numbers are remarkable for the party that was only founded in November 2012. The immense support for the Pirates shows a shift in what Iceland’s population is prioritizing when it comes to their government and policies.

The Pirate Party’s platform includes the decentralization of power and access to information. It is interested in reformation of copyright and patent laws along with direct democracy — they currently set their policies with online polls. Pirates aren’t exactly like American libertarians, though: Instead, they hope to change the corrupt establishments that have steered Iceland for so long and want transparency when it comes to the government. In a matter of four years, the Pirate Party has become a political force.

Given Iceland’s size of about 323,000 people, the Pirate movement has an actual opportunity to completely overturn the government. The party also received a considerable spike in support after the Panama Papers exposed establishment officials’ offshore accounts that went unreported, including the Prime Minister, who eventually stepped down.

See also: Future Cities: Reykjavík

Thousands of people took to the streets in the capital of Reykjavik, outraged by the revelations. As more people crave transparency from their authorities, the Pirate Party aims to provide that.

Protesters gather outside of the Parliament building in the wake of the Panama Papers crisis on April 5 in Reykjavik.

Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Currently, the Pirate Party already has three seats in Iceland’s parliament. If the poll numbers hold true on Saturday’s national elections, the party could claim 15 of the 63 available seats. There are Pirate movements in various countries all over the world, but Iceland is the only place where the group has elected officials.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the party’s founder, told the Washington Post, “People want real changes and they understand that we have to change the systems, we have to modernize how we make laws.”

As the Pirate Party continues to pick up steam both in Iceland and across the globe, it reveals what people are beginning to value when it comes to their political systems. And with Iceland preparing for what could be a major shakeup with a large portion of parliament becoming Pirate seats, it’ll be interesting to see how that affects other developments with similar ideologies.

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