Logo of Iceland’s Pirate Party.
Iceland’s Pirate Party is drawing closer to the summit of power, as scandals sparked by the release of the Panama Papers have forced the resignations of the prime minister and forced a Panama Papered president to call elections for 29 October.
The Pirate Party, founded on a platform of digital privacy rights, has been the big winner, as Icelanders show rising discontent with traditional parties.
From the Guardian:
The Pirate party, whose platform includes direct democracy, greater government transparency, a new national constitution and asylum for US whistleblower Edward Snowden, will field candidates in every constituency and has been at or near the top of every opinion poll for over a year.
“It’s gradually dawning on us, what’s happening,” Birgitta Jónsdóttir, leader of the Pirates’ parliamentary group, told the Guardian. “It’s strange and very exciting. But we are well prepared now. This is about change driven not by fear but by courage and hope. We are popular, not populist.”
The election, likely to be held on 29 October, follows the resignation of Iceland’s former prime minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson, who became the first major victim of the Panama Papers in April after the leaked legal documents revealed he had millions of pounds of family money offshore.
The party’s popularity rises with scandals
A succession of scandals involving government leaders has spurred the rise of a party premised on transparency and participatory democracy.
The Iceland Monitor has been tracking the numbers:
With just three MPs in Iceland’s current parliament, support for the Pirate party in Iceland rocketed from 13% to 30% in the space of nine weeks in February-April 2015.
They peaked at 38.6% in February this year, and have been Iceland’s most popular political party for an almost unbroken period of seventeen months (all figures: MMR).
People who have been a member of the Pirate Party for at least thirty days are eligible to vote in elections and over 100 potential candidates have come forward for the constituencies of Greater Reykjavik and South Iceland.
According to the last MMR opinion poll, the Pirates could get somewhere in the region of 18-20 MPs in the next election – compared to just three currently – and be in a commanding position to try and form a government.
Here’s a look at the latest numbers in graphic form:
The party’s leader says they’re ready for power
RT covers self-described poetician and the party’s leading figure and founder, Birgitta Jónsdóttir [previously], a former Wikileaks activist who has been a leading European advocate of privacy rights and a passionate advocate for Chelsea Manning:
Jonsdottir, a former member of the WikiLeaks team, says the Pirate Party, founded four years ago, is ready to form a government with any coalition partner that supports its agenda to bring about a “fundamental system change.”
“I look at us and I think, we are equipped to do this,” she told the Guardian.
“Actually, the fact we haven’t done it before and that we won’t have any old-school people telling us how, means we’ll do it more carefully. We will be doing things very differently.
“…we are well prepared now. This is about change driven not by fear, but by courage and hope. We are popular, not populist,” she added.
Icelanders’ distrust of politicians reached a boiling point when the Panama Papers revealed that then-Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson had once owned an offshore company (now controlled by his wife) that held debt from failed Icelandic banks. Thousands of people, outraged by their PM’s alleged offshore accounts, took to the streets of Iceland’s capital in what appeared to be the largest protest in the country’s history. The scandal prompted Gunnlaugsson to resign in early April, with early general elections likely to be held in October.
More after the jump. . . Continue reading