When the Swedish Pirate Party was launched three years ago, the majority of the mainstream press viewed them with skepticism, with some simply laughing them away. Times have changed though. As the government works to introduce harsher copyright laws and others that threaten the privacy of Sweden’s citizens, the party is growing stronger and stronger.
In a recent poll, 21 percent of all Swedes indicated that they would consider voting for the Pirate Party in the upcoming European Parliament elections. Among men in the 18-29 age group, this number goes up to a massive 55% – an unprecedented statistic.
Aside from the support in this poll, more people have joined the party recently. During the last quarter the membership count increased by 50% – from 6000 to 9000 – which makes the party larger than the Green Party which currently holds 19 seats in the Swedish parliament.
Swedish Pirate Party Leader Rick Falkvinge told TorrentFreak that the Internet played a big part in the recent successes of the party. “We couldn’t have done this without the dialog infrastructure that the Net provides. Oldmedia has lost control of the discourse,” he said. With all the controversy surrounding the new anti-piracy and wiretapping legislation, the Pirate Party was often mentioned on blogs, since they are the most outspoken opponent.
For the upcoming European election, the Pirate Party requires 100,000 Swedish votes to get a seat, a goal that is within reach in the current political climate. Falkvinge is optimistic too, and said “We need to grow by another 50%, counting from the Swedish election two years ago, to get seats in the EU parliament and shake the political copyright world at its core. It’s hard, it’s supposed to be hard, but the numbers show we can do it. We can do this, and the charts are going stratospheric.”
The Internet will probably play a big role in this election for the Pirate Party, and recent history has shown that this is not only true for parties that carry “pirate” in their name. Elections to the European Parliament will be held in June 2009, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Pirate Party fares.