by Olivia Azevedo
The Green Party used to be the little darling of all things good and ethical in Europe. Somehow during its long reign of not quite getting to a level where it could make a real difference there was a shift in people’s worries to other more urgent matters – in a period of economic recession nuclear energy conundrums is not a top concern it seems – which the ‘greens’ had failed to acknowledge or it didn’t seem important enough to review their manifesto.
There’s a new sweetheart in town (if we can call it that) and it goes by the name of Pirate Party. Green is no longer the mold for upstart political parties, at least not in Germany where a shock revelation was made this week: the Pirate Party (Piratenpartei Deutschland) is now the third political force in the country, according to a survey released by the pollsters at Forsa for the German broadcaster RTL.
The newcomer started to get noticed last September when they managed to obtain a very impressive 8.9% of the vote in the Berlin city-state elections. In a recent poll, the party enjoys nationwide popular support of 13% ahead of the Green Party with only 11%.
But what does the Pirate Party stand for and what are their strengths that are quickly changing people’s hearts by allowing a neophyte such sudden fame?
The Pirate Party was born in Sweden in 2006 and its popularity soon saw a multiplication of parties with similar goals in Europe giving shape to the international movement PPI (Pirate Party International).
When it was founded, the Piratpartiet (Swedish for Pirate Party) had very precise goals: to reform copyright law, to get rid of the patent system, to demand more governmental transparency, and to ensure that citizen’s rights to privacy are respected, both on the internet and in everyday life. And this and this alone is their political agenda.
The Swedish Pirate Party is the first to admit that the group started as a reaction to people’s sentiments concerning these issues and the lack of response from political leaders. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, having gained two seats in the European Parliament. From the time it was formed, the Piratpartiet became the third political force in the country by membership alone and its youth organization Young Pirate (Ung Pirat) is the largest in Sweden.
But is the performance of both Germany and Sweden’s Pirate Parties a mere blip in the political spectrum or is it only the start of a new trend that will catch fire, igniting a reaction from its ‘branches’ in over 30 more countries? Will the UK be next bearing in mind all the new surveillance measures currently on the go that is meeting with the opposition of its citizens?
The young seem attracted by their political mission and will no doubt be their first supporters. The strange thing is that so much has been said about having youth on board the political game, but big parties have done very little to substantiate all those good intentions.
Are they missing a trick? Online activism is well and alive. Who knows, next time, in a polling station near you the Pirate Party will receive a big ‘Arrr!’ – which of course is pirate for ‘Yes!’