Mar 18, 2012

Rise of the Pirates: a new way of doing politics

The old way of doing politics is increasingly leaving a lot of people disenchanted and disengaged. Low election turnouts and the apathy of voters often comes down to the conviction that it makes little difference who you elect because the mainstream parties play the same old game by the same old rules.

This in part explains the appeal of Pirate politics. Pirate Parties have been started in over 40 countries. They address the need for a new type of participatory politics.

The pirate party idea got its start when the Swedish Piratpartiet was founded in 2006. In 2009 European Pirate Parties agreed on a common declaration of goals:

- reform of copyright, exemption of non-commercial activity from copyright regulation, reduction of the duration of copyright protections; banning of DRM technologies, opposition to media or hardware levies;

- reform of patent law, particularly stating that patents on life (including patents on seeds and on genes) and software should not be allowed;

- strengthening civil rights, transparent government, speedy and fair trial and freedom of speech; expansion of the right to anonymity in communication.


In the European Parliament election of 2009 the Swedish Pirate Party received 7.1 percent of the votes, winning two seats and achieving the first major success of a Pirate Party in an election. The German Pirate Party managed to win 8.9 percent of the votes in the Berlin state election, 2011.

The German Pirate Party is self-described as the "party of the information society." In common with Pirate Parties elsewhere, it wants to see greater emphasis placed on transparency and civic participation.

Der Spiegel:

Take, for example, "LiquidFeedback," the Pirate Party's Internet voting software, which can give a greater voice to the individual than other parties have done until now. Or "Mumble," a voice conference program that allows Pirates to participate in discussions with just about anyone from the comfort of their own homes -- as long as they have a computer, an Internet connection, a microphone and loudspeakers.

The German Pirates surprised a lot of people with their showing in parliamentary elections in the Berlin state election in 2011 when they got 8.9% of the vote. In upcoming parliamentary elections in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein the Pirates stand to take between 6 to 8% of the vote based on poll projections.

In Canada the Pirate Party was registered with Elections Canada in 2010. The Canadian Party advocates intellectual property reform, network neutrality and greater government openness.