The Washington Post reports:
The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago.
Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls – and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home.
And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king.
The rise of the Pirates – from radical fringe to focal point of Icelandic politics – has astonished even the party’s founder, a poet, Web programmer and former WikiLeaks activist.
“No way,” said 49-year-old Birgitta Jónsdóttir when asked whether she could have envisioned her party governing the country so soon after its launch. …
The populist spirit was revved up once again this past spring when the leak of the Panama Papers revealed an offshore company owned by the prime minister’s wife that staked a claim to Iceland’s collapsed banks. The perceived conflict of interest brought thousands of protesters to the streets, a crowd that, as a share of the overall population, was equal to as many as 21 million people in the United States.
With protests building, the prime minister quit and new elections were called. But the public’s cynicism about a political system long steered by an insider clique only deepened.
“The distrust that had long been germinating has now exploded. The Pirates are riding on that wave,” said Ragnheithur Kristjánsdóttir, a political history professor at the University of Iceland. “We’ve had new parties before, and then they’ve faded. What’s surprising is that they’re maintaining their momentum.”
The Pirates, part of an international movement of the same name, are not the only ones seizing on the country’s discontented political spirit. Several new parties have surged and could well set Iceland’s direction for the next four years. Meanwhile, parties that have traded power in Iceland for decades are bumping along in polls at historic lows.
It will be interesting to see how they go, if they do get to form Government.
The latest poll has the following:
- Pirates 22.6%
- Independence (libertarian) 21.1%
- Left-Green 18.6%
- Progressive (centre right) 9.1%
- Viðreisn (pro free trade) 8.8%
- Social Democratic Alliance (centre left) 6.5%
- Bright Future (liberal, centre) 6.0%
The Pirate Party has said they wouldn’t do a coalition with the Independence or Progressive parties so it may be Pirates, left-green and Social Democrats.