Will Sweden’s Pirate Party Make an Impact in the European Parliament?
Falkvinge told the BBC that the court case surrounding Sweden’s The Pirate Bay, the “world’s most high-profile file-sharing website,” had a “significant role” in helping the party seal its victory.
The four founders of The Pirate Bay were sentenced to one year in prison by a Swedish court in April, and were told to pay $4.5 million in damages. That verdict attracted more than 22,000 new members to the Pirate Party, Wired magazine reported.
The party also seeks more “respect for the right to privacy,” including a limit on government surveillance. It has also proposed alternatives to pharmaceutical and other types of patents.
Wired magazine reported April 22 that the Pirate Party gained 22,000 members following the sentencing of the Pirate Bay founders. But prior to the seat win, there was some skepticism as to whether the party could actually go the distance.
Ulf Bjereld, professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, was referenced by Wired as suggesting that it is “unclear that file-sharers care enough about the issue to let it determine what party they vote for.” That proved to be untrue for the European parliamentary election, but may be relevant in Sweden’s election next year.
Sweden’s English newspaper The Local observed that the party has “leapt from nowhere to the top of the table among a generation broadly characterised by political apathy.” Daniel Wijk, a 29-year-old Web developer, was quoted as saying, “If this party hadn't been on the ballot paper, I simply wouldn't have voted.” Data gathered by Swedish polling institute Toivo Sjoren supported Wijk’s sentiment.
This kind of mobility could spread now that the party is represented in Europe. As The Economist notes, “indifference” among European Union voters is high. “The average EU-wide turnout was 43%, the lowest since the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979.”
But a challenge for the Pirate Party might be the fact that most left-wing governments “suffered heavy defeats” in the elections; the party’s victory was really an anomaly as “the left did badly even where it is in opposition (France and Italy) or in coalition with the mainstream right (Germany, the Netherlands and Austria).”
Referring to wins by “mavericks” such as the Pirate Party, The Economist says “the parliament has powers over EU legislation that will be further increased if the Lisbon treaty is ratified, but for the most part its loonier fringes can be safely ignored by their saner colleagues.”
The European Parliament originated in the 1950s and is the representative body of E.U. member nations. There are currently 785 seats in the parliament represented by all 27 nations in the E.U., according to the official site of the European Union. Elections are held every five years and “every EU citizen is entitled to vote, and to stand as a candidate, wherever they live in the EU.”
The elected candidates are Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). MEPs “do not sit in national blocks, but in seven Europe-wide political groups. Between them, they represent all views on European integration, from the strongly pro-federalist to the openly Eurosceptic.”
This article was originally published on www.findingdulcinea.com
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