22 September 2010

Yo Ho-Hum – Pirates Sink in Swedish Elections

Back in June of 2009, the Swedish political party Piratpartiet (Pirate Party) gained 7% of the Swedish vote in the European elections, and a seat in the European Parliament, on a platform of fundamental reform of copyright law, abolition of the patent system, and ensuring that citizens' rights to privacy are respected.

Barely 15 months later, in the current Swedish elections, Piratpartiet has seemingly been scuttled, gaining under 1% of the vote, and performing no better than in the 2006 Swedish elections.  This assumes, of course, that we are reading the result tables correctly, given our nonexistent knowledge of the Swedish language beyond "hej", "tack", "smorgasbord", "ABBA", "IKEA" and "bork, bork, bork" (which we secretly suspect may not be actual Swedish).

Piratpartiet leader Rick Falkvinge responded to the result:

The Swedish Pirate Party did its best election campaign ever. We had more media, more articles, more debates, more handed-out flyers than ever. Unfortunately, the wind was not in our sails this time, as it was with the European elections.
We suggest that this result indicates that while there are people in Sweden willing to put Pirates in the European parliament, perhaps as some form of statement or protest, they are less keen on the prospect of having them in their own government!  The greater seriousness with which Swedish voters treat their national elections is reflected in the turnout, with about 82% of eligible Swedes voting in this election, compared with little more than half this number in the 2009 European parliamentary elections.

Had Piratpartiet gained a seat in the Swedish parliament, they could have held the balance of power, given that it appears the final result will be a hung parliament (something we are now familiar with here in Australia).

It is worth bearing mind, however, that substantive IP policy is largely directed from the European level, rather than within individual member states.  Signatories to the European Patent Convention, for example, are required to maintain their national laws in harmony with the Convention.  Thus the European Parliament may actually be a better forum for Piratpartiet, and its equivalents in other European nations, to pursue its agenda.

We are disturbed to note that the 6% of votes, and the balance of power, that did not go to Piratpartiet have resulted instead in elevation of the far-right Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats), which repotedly has "neo-Nazi roots" and campaigned on a platform of "Keeping Sweden Swedish".  This can only exacerbate the damage (presumably) inflicted on Sweden's reputation for tolerance and equality by the massive international success of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy.

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