Pirate Parties are “A Classic Civil Rights Movement”

PiratPartiet, the Swedish Pirate Party, has started its march on Brussels with a bang. The party hopes to make a strong showing in June at the European Parliament elections, and has been bolstered in its aims by comments in major Swedish newspapers, which have termed the party “a classic civil rights movement.”

pirate partiesIt was almost three years ago that the first Pirate Party was formed in Sweden. Its aim is to deal with over-reaching copyright law, and this is exactly what the Pirate Party stands for in most people’s minds. But there is more.

In recent times, the Pirate Party has been more concerned with government actions that affect ordinary citizens. The wiretapping law (FRA) for example, as well as the likes of IPRED, which will give companies chasing an alleged copyright infringer more powers than the police. Worrying for anyone that has followed our stories on Davenport Lyons in the UK. “If IPRED becomes law, then drug dealers will have greater rights and protection than file-sharers,” wrote one news site.

On Monday, the PiratPartiet released their list of candidates for the EU parliamentary election taking place in June. Heading the list is party vice-chairman Christian Engstrom, but the other 19 candidates cover a wide age-range and are of roughly equal gender. This is not a party dominated by geeky teenage boys, but one that’s growing quickly; the Swedish Pirate Party now has only a few hundred members less than the Green Party.

Other countries aren’t so lucky. Spain, Poland and France, are among those with parties that hope to run in the election, but are having difficulty getting supporters. “It’s a sad state of affairs globally,” says Andrew Norton, the coordinator of Pirate Party International. “Most countries have lots of people that just can’t be bothered. They will post on forums to express their anger, but not do anything worthwhile about it.”

However, in Sweden – the home of The Pirate Bay – things are getting better. In the prominent Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, the headline reads “IPRED Favours the Pirate Party.” It goes on to comment on how directives like IPRED are driving people to the Pirate Party in Sweden, people who are concerned over both IPRED and FRA laws.

In their first election The Swedish Pirate Party gathered some 35,000 votes – roughly comparable to a leading 3rd party candidate in a US presidential election, percentage-wise. But, with the heavy public focus on these hot-topic issues, it’s entirely possible they’ll reach 100,000 – the number required in the last EU election in Sweden to get a seat.

The newspaper closed with a comment from political scientist and election researcher Henrik Oscarsson, who identified the Pirate Party as “a classic civil rights movement”. We have to wonder, does this make Brokep and Co. at the Pirate Bay, the digital Rosa Parks?

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