On August 28, the Pirate Party of Sweden made their election program official. An introduction stating the ideas and ideology behind their program, the party stated their program for the election in a number of concrete points.
The program consists of a total of 15 pages, and should be the most concrete and factual of the programs presented by parties running in the elections.
After The raid on the popular BitTorrent tracker “The Piratebay“, the Pirate Party has transformed into the largest party without parliament seats. In Sweden, you get seats in the parliament if you get four percent of the votes. The Pirate Party has arount the same member count as the Green Party, which is a party that supports the current government, and without them, the current government can’t maintain their majority This leads the Pirate Party to believe that if they get into the parliament they can fill such a vital role, and thereby make a big difference. Worth noting is that some unofficial gallups from various sources indicate that the Pirate Party is the most likely party for a Swedish first-time voter to choose on election day.
Here is a translation of the introduction. If you happen to read Swedish, the manifesto can be retrieved in PDF here.
The Pirate Party Election Manifesto 2006
The election program of the Pirate Party consists of various nautical charts, describing what we want to do in each of the areas within the Pirate Party policies. These charts are divided in sections based on deadline and what is to be done on a Swedish and on a European level.
As an introduction to these charts, we describe our ideology and our main policies.
Protected integrity in an open society
The development of technology has made sure Sweden and Europe stand before a fork in the road. The new technology offers fantastic possibilities to spread culture and knowledge all over the world with almost no costs. But it also makes way for the building of a society monitored at a level unheard of up until now.
In no time, the monitoring state has advanced its positions strongly in Sweden. This development threatens equality and safety before the law, and nothing indicates that it even adds to security. The Pirate Party believes this is the wrong way to go.
The right to privacy is a corner stone in an open and democratic society. Each and everyone has the right to respect for one’s own private and family life, one’s home and one’s correspondence. If the constitutional freedom of information is to be more than empty words on a paper, we much defend the right for protected private communication.
The arguments for every individual step towards a monitoring society may sound very convincing, but we only have to look at the recent history of Europe to see where that road leads. It is less than twenty years since the fall of the Berlin wall, and there are numerous other terrible examples. To claim that it’s only those with something to hide that has anything to fear is simply lacking knowledge of history, and lacking courage.
We have no problem with police monitoring and spying on suspected criminals. That is exactly what the police is suppose to be doing. But routinely monitoring ordinary citizens hoping for something suspicious to turn up is not only a gross violation of the privacy of honest people. It is also a waste of valuable police resources.
We have to pull the emergency break on the train running towards a society we don’t want. Terrorists can attack our open society, but only governments can disband it. The Pirate Party wants to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Private communication and file sharing
A driving force behind the current monitoring hysteria is the entertainment business, which wants to prevent people from file sharing copyrighted material. But to achieve this all private communication must be monitored. To know what ones and zeros make up a movie, the ones and zeros has to be analyzed. It is the same sort of ones and zeros that is sent, regardless of if it makes up a piece of music, or a letter to a doctor or a lawyer.
Therefore society ha to choose: do we want a possibility to trustingly communicate over the Internet to exist?
If your answer is yes, it means that also those that shares copyrighted material can use these possibilities.
If you answer is no, it means that you abolish the right of information, the right to mail secrecy and the right to a private life.
There are no other answers.
It is not possible to claim that society should allow mail secrecy for certain purposes, but not for others, since it is impossible to separate the different cases without breeching the secrecy. It is the same types of ones and zeros being used, and only by opening the message, it is possible to see what it contains.
The current copyright legislation can not be combined with freedom of information and protected private communication. Since the fundamental principles of the open, democratic society is more important than conserving old business models within the business of entertainment at all costs, copyright has to fold.
But this is not negative. A reformed copyright legislation, expressing a balance between different interests in society instead of being an order form from the large media companies, has its own benefits. It is a possibility for Sweden and Europe, not a threat.
The spreading of culture and knowledge is a positive thing
Thanks to the Internet it is today possible for everyone with a computer to take part of a fantastic treasure of culture and knowledge.
Instead of being limited to a cultural canon decided from above, the youths of today has access to the music, theater and pictures of an entire world. This is something we should embrace, not something we should try to forbid. File sharing is good for society and its people.
All non-commercial acquiring, using, bettering and spread of culture should be actively encouraged. The Internet is filling the same function today as popular education did a hundred years ago. It is something positive and good for the development of society.
The copyright legislation must be changes so that it is made perfectly clear that it only regulate use and copying of works done for commercial purposes. To share copies, or in any other way spread or use someone else’s work, should never be forbidden as long as it is done on an idealistic basis without the purposes of commercial gain.
Unfortunately, the legislation has developed in quite the opposite direction. On July 1, 2005, a million ordinary Swedes were suddenly turned into criminals over night, simply because they download movies and music. This doesn’t only hurt our possibilities to take part of culture. In the long run it undermines the trust of our entire judicial apparatus. This development has to end.
In a similar fashion, patents are used to inhibit the spread and use of knowledge, which hurts society as a whole.
Medical patents make people in poor countries die for no reason. It twists the priorities in research and makes the costs for medications a problem in every health care budget.
Software patents inhibit technical development within the info tech area and presents a serious threat against small as well as mid-sized businesses and individual developers. They run the risk of putting the power over the Internet completely in the hands of a small number of multi national businesses.
We want to release knowledge, and have specific suggestion on how to avoid the negative consequences that the patent system means.
Sweden and Europe has everything to gain from choosing the path of openness.
No other issues
The Pirate Party does not have any policies on issues that traditionally concerns the left-right scale, or any other issues outside of our program of policiies.
We particularly does not concern ourselves with the division of wealth. We are not after dividing money between different groups in society. None of our propositions costs any money for the state, and several of them may potentially save money in the budget. Because of this, we can place ourselves outside of the struggle concerning the budget, with good faith, and leave it to the old parties.
We are ready to support a social democratic as well as a non-socialist government, we claim that both GÃ¶ran Persson as well as Fredrik Reinfeldt are well capable of taking the role as the head of government in a satisfactory manner. We do not believe that the differences between them are that big, in reality, and every one of us are ready to live with any of them as our prime minister.
The only thing that concerns us, is the protection of our open society and democracy, that the march towards a controlled society is cancelled, and that culture and knowledge are set free.
Our goal is to reach the parliament and being in a position where we can tip the scale. If we succeed in this we will talk to both GÃ¶ran Persson and Fredrik Reinfeldt alike. We will explain what we want, and point out that our policies in no way differs from either traditional social democratic policy or traditional liberal/non-socialist policy.
After that, we will support the person aspiring to form a government, who is ready to make the best deal with us on our policies. On any matter outside of our policy statement, we will support and vote for the current government, no matter what we believe individually on different matters.
Due to the fact that we do not have a view on everything on this earth, but concentrate completely on the issues where we have formed a policy, we can promise a result if we make it to the house of parliament in a scale-tipping position. That makes us unique in Swedish political history.
We are the only party that will never deal away our free and open society for the benifit of any other issue or interest.
More on the Pirate Party tipping the scale
The Pirate Party does not take a stand in issues generally associated with the right or left, or any other issues that are not part of our declaration of principles. We are ready to support a socialdemocratic as well as a non-socialist government. The only thing that concerns us is that the march towards a controlled society is cancelled, and that culture and knowledge in society are set free,
On of the factions within Swedish politics has really anything to lose in reality by satisfying more or less all of our demands. Neither Persson nor Reinfeldt have any personal interest in keeping the absurdity that is current copyright legislation. The fact that things look like they do, is primarily due to lack of interest in the area, and that they have therefore allowed the ‘experts’ (i.e. the lobbyists of the entertainment industry) have their way.
In a situation where they can gain position of forming a government by striking a deal with us in an issue that they, themselves, believe to be less important, there is every reason to believe that they will be eager to find a solution.
But in either case, there are three possible scenarios:
1) One of the factions agree to our demands, and the other does not. Then we will choose the faction that agree with us. Whether this is the red faction of the blue faction is of no concern for us. As long as we see that they are doing their best to seriously run our issues, we will support the government in all other issues as well, without questioning.
2) Both the factions agree to our demands. If there are differences of nuances making one faction looking slightly better than the other, we will choose this faction. If both are exactly as good, we will support the faction with the more votes. This way we won’t influence the balance between the factions in Swedish politics. As long as the government is running our issues, we will support them in all decicions, just as in the first scenario.
3) Both the factions refuse to meet our demands. This is the more complicated case, but we can handle this one too. Initially we will support one faction, and make a government possible. Most likely this will be the ones with the less votes, so that the others, the ‘victors’, will feel that they have lost power they were entitled to. They can, however, not do much about it, since we will support the government without questioning in anything that does not involve our principles.
When the “victors” are safely placed in the penalty box of opposition, we start our businesslike, low-voiced conversations with them, until they realize that our proposals are not, in fact, that dangerous, and that they can only win from working with us. When they have seen our arguments in the glow of the miraging governmental position for a while, there are good reasons to believe they will agree with us. This is when we will call for a vote of non-confidence and change the government. After that, the Pirate Party with support the new government without questioning, in all issues, as long as the government runs our issues forcefully, just as in scenario 1 and 2.
This is our entire strategy. This way we can guarantee that our policies will have a break-through.
Questions and answers about our scale-tipping strategy
- How do we handle parliamentary votes that do not include any issues that the Pirate Party runs?
We will support the government in office, no matter what our personal opinions might be.
- Will the party try to make deals with other parties (“if you vote for us on issue “X” and “Y” we will help you with “Z”)?
No, we will talk to the party in office. As long as they do as we want in our issues, we will support them in all other matters. We do not wish to try shopping a la carte from different parties (if we do, we will only be shoved aside). If the government stops this manner of cooperation, we will change the government, but as long as we tolerate a government, we are completely loyal to them in all other issues, those not in our program.
- …or not vote?
If the government needs our support in the parliament it can count on it. We will not cancel our votes if this would affect the turnout against the government.
- …or let the individual MPs decide for themselves?
Under no circumstances. The day we start voting after personal preference, we have nothing more to offer the other parties in a negotiation. If this happens, we can no longer benefit from our position, and have no longer any means to influence the policies that is the closest to our hearts.
- But in the third scenario (that is if none of the factions wants to offer anything at all, even though we are tipping the scale), why would we want to support the government? We should obviously be able to offer them to vote, from their perspective, in an unseemly manner? It seems a bit awkward to give them what they want first (by support) and then trying to negotiate.
The idea in the third scenario is that we help a government form, that we ourselves aren’t happy with, but who we choose to support indefinitely anyway. Principally only to tease the opposition, in other words. When the opposition has spent a few months being grumpy because they can’t form a government even though they think they won the election, they have two alternatives to choose from. They can either stay grumpy for the next four years, or they can start talking to us to find out if they can “talk sense in to us” and have our support.
The big prize is the government, both for the left and the right, and they have nothing to lose from having a dialogue with us. With that, we’ve managed to initialize a discussion with the opposition concerning these issues. Since our proposals does not, in any way, clash with the basic values of neither the left wing nor the right wing block, and since they are good proposals, objectively, for Sweden, there is no reason to believe that they would prefer to stay grumpy for the next four years instead of making a deal with us.
But until they have done so, we will consistently vote with their opponents (i.e. the government that we support even if we think they are no good). That way the opposition will have an even bigger reason to strike a deal with us, even more so than if we voted without a clear direction. The more votes the opposition loses concerning health care / education / taxes / disbanding of military units, the more eager they will become to have a change of government.
The government that is in power even though we think they’re no good will perhaps feel happy to be able to carry through whatever they want without giving us anything in return. But they will know that all it takes for them to lose office is one word from the opposition. So the joy they’re feeling will hardly be very deep or long lasting.
The point of helping a government to form even if none of the players gives us what we want is that we want to add to stablity and let things calm down a bit. One can’t postpone negotiations about the government more than a couple of weeks after the election. If we can’t have a government that we want because it promises to see our points and work for them, it’s still better to help a government we don’t like. The country needs a government.
Parliamentarism is such an ingenious system because the parliament can throw out the government in office whenever a majority of its members wish. The leader of the opposition will know this, no matter if his name is Persson or Reinfeldt. So why would he not talk to us to see if he can create a majority for a vote of no confidence? And why would he not meet our demands when he has had time to think about them, and realize that they do not oppose his own ideology or any core party issues in any way?
If we make it to the parliament, but can not tip the scale
Even if we would not reach a position where we can tip the scale, we can still do a lot of good in the standing committees. Much of the malfunctioning legislation that is voted through is often voted through because the established parties do not understand the Internet and all the new technology. They have not thought through the consequences of building a controlled society to conserve the old instead of embracing the possibilities we have in our time.
They often blindly trust what lobbyists and civil servants at the departments tell them to think. They do not see these issues as important enough to put down time getting an informed opinion.
We can hopefully change this, simply by being part of the committees, pressing the fact that these are important issues. Neither social democrats nor moderates really want to make it illegal for small businesses to develop new software, after all, or put all Swedish youths in prison. The fact that they still make or argue for laws that has these consequences is mostly due to lack of knowledge. We can supply the standing committees with a well needed competence and a valuable perspective.
- If we can’t tip the scale, will we try to negotiate about individual issues?
In this scenario, negotiations will hardly be our most important tool, simply because we wouldn’t have much of a negotiation position. If they can create a majority without us, they won’t need to negotiate with us at all.
But this does not mean that all would be lost. We could still add a lot, simply by being constructive in our committee work. Much of the worst legislation is due to the fact that the established parties lack knowledge and interest in our issues.
- …or will we simply cancel our votes?
In a situation where there is a parliamentary majority without us, it wouldn’t matter how we voted, and then it doesn’t make a difference. The simplest thing would be to simply not vote.
- …or do we present bills that are promptly turned down?
We might want to present bills as part of our work to clarify the choices our society has, but the purpose then would only be to raise these issues. We would probably have to spend more time discussing the pros and cons of the bills that are about to be clubbed.
- …or should we simply stay home with our kids?
Participating in the committees in a constructive manner aside, there will be much work to be done on the European level. Some of the decisions we want carried through can only be made in Brussels. Therefore we have all reason to do what we can to support our sister parties in other countries, and help them get started. So there might not be much time for vacation, even if we don’t get to support a government.