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Pirate Party Walks The Plank In Swedish Elections

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The Swedish Pirate Party has failed to gain a foothold in the Swedish political establishment after flopping in that country’s general election

The Swedish Pirate Party has been unsuccessful in its attempts to become a political force after it failed to secure a parliamentary seat in Sweden’s general election.

The Swedish Pirate Party (PiratPartiet) had hoped to secure a seat so it could help protect The Pirate Bay, by running the site from inside the Swedish Parliament and therefore making use of Parliament’s ‘immunity to prosecution’. However, the result of the election also means that the Party won’t get the chance to legalise non-commercial file-sharing.

In the general election PiratPartiet pulled in just 0.7 percent of the vote. This is despite the fact that it already has two Euro MPs in Sweden thanks to the European elections. It needed at least four percent of the votes to grab a seat in the Riksdag.

Dispointing Outcoming

The leader of PiratPartiet, Rick Falkvinge, told TorrentFreak that the party is disappointed with the outcome, but they had tried their best.

“The Swedish Pirate Party did its best election campaign ever. We had more media, more articles, more debates, more handed-out flyers than ever. Unfortunately, the wind was not in our sails this time, as it was with the European elections,” Falkvinge said.

He blamed the lack of votes on the disregard by other parties of all PiratPartiet’s core issues during the debates.

“The other parties had put a collective blanket over the privacy, culture and knowledge issues, as they had absolutely nothing to gain by even mentioning the issues.”

Not Surprised

But open source campaigner Florian Mueller took little time to undertake a post mortem on the poor showing by the Pirate Party.

I’m not at all surprised that the Pirate Party fails to become a real political force,” he wrote in a blog posting. “Three years ago, a MySQL  executive made me known with Rick Falkvinge, the party’s founder, by email, and in the ensuing correspondence I expressed very serious doubt that the Pirate Party was going to replicate in our times the rise of the Greens in the 1980s. I also expressed my concern that the party’s approach – including its provocative name – might even discredit the cause of reasonable and balanced IP policy.”

“Nevertheless, I gave the German Pirate Party a signature last year to support their participation in the federal election (though I didn’t vote for them in the end because they took an extremely radical anti-security stance shortly before the vote). I kept my fingers crossed for the Swedish Pirate Party in last year’s European election. And I liked Christian Engström’s clear condemnation of counterfeiting in the European Parliament two weeks ago.”

What’s In A Name?

“When the party was founded in support of the Pirate Bay file-sharing platform, that name was its key success factor,” Mueller said. “The organisation obviously never meant to support piracy on high seas, or counterfeiting of physical goods. But the idea of a party expressing (to say the least) a great deal of sympathy for the illegal copying of software (programs, music, movies) was shocking, and a shocking appearance can be a way to get listened to and talked about.”

Mueller said that its radically provocative positioning had “all the ingredients of a one-hit wonder,”  and the party didn’t have a positive image, unlike the Greens. He also highlighted there were significant overlaps between the Pirate Party and the anti-software-patent movement.

“But I’m afraid for them that they will remain a fringe party forever,” he added. “At some point they may realise that they’re an activist group, a non-governmental organisation, even though they will probably continue to call themselves a party and pursue parliamentary ambitions for some more time (until possibly being absorbed by the Greens, with whom the Pirates already caucus in the European Parliament).”

“Those pirates who really want to shape intellectual property policy will be better advised to join the more established parties and try to leave a mark on their positions,” he concluded. “But that will require them to fully appreciate the legitimate interest of the knowledge economy in strong intellectual property rights.”

Pirate ISP Ahoy

Back in July the Swedish Pirate Party (PiratPartiet) announced plans to launch the world’s first “Pirate ISP” – a broadband service that will allow users to share BitTorrent files anonymously online, while providing financial support to the Party – which argues against copyright.

Back in May, PiratPartiet took over the delivery of bandwidth to notorious BitTorrent tracker, The Pirate Bay. The decision came after The Pirate Bay was taken offline by its bandwidth provider, following an injunction obtained by several major Hollywood movie studios.