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Pirate Party On Track For A Record Victory In Iceland

Pirate Party On Track For A Record Victory In Iceland

This is a guest post by Mattias Bjärnemalm, vice-president of Pirate Party Sweden and currently in Iceland for the elections.


This coming Saturday there will be an election in Iceland, after the Panama scandal forced the Prime Minister to resign and the government to call new elections this summer. It’s impossible, at this point, to say whether the Icelandic Pirate Party will be the largest or second largest party after the election. However, it’s entirely clear that compared to their result of 5.1% in the previous election, this will be an enormous success for them. This will be a large step forward for not just the Icelandic pirates – at the moment of writing, more than thirty pirates from other countries have said that they will travell to Iceland to be there at the election. In that group we can find the leaders for the Swedish, German, Dutch and Slovenian pirate parties, as well as our MEP Julia Reda.

What is it that has made the Icelandic Pirate Party successful? My analysis is that they have succeeded in building upon their previous successes very well. To go from 5% to 20% is an incredible change, but that’s actually not as impressive as the feat of 5.1% in the first election that a party stands in. To understand the Pirates’ success, you have to first understand the circumstances of their election in 2013, half a year after the party’s founding.

This is how ‘The Iceland Blog’ described the situation in 2012:
“Birgitta Jónsdóttir has been elected leader of Píratapartýið. In the Icelandic Pirate’s first policy program there is among other things a call for more transparency in society and increased civil rights. The goal is to get into the Alþingi in the spring elections. The Pirate Party will, above all, be trying to recruit young members who are active on the net. On Saturday the Pirate Party was formally founded at a meeting in Reykjavík. Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who is today an MP for ‘The Movement’, was elected leader of the executive committee. On the committee is also Björn Þór Jóhannesson, Halldóra Mogensen, Jason Scott and Stefán Vignir Skarphéðinsson, as well as Herbert Snorrason and Einar Valur Ingimundarson who were elected by lottery. The goal is to breach the 5% barrier to the Alþingi in April and gain representation in parliament. The Icelandic Pirate Party is aimed mostly towards young and internet-active voters.“

This can be seen as a relatively representative overview of the new party, where the focus was very much on Birgitta. The same blog described their policies in the following way before the election in 2013:
“The Icelandic pirates push classic pirate topics: transparency, freedom of information, direct democracy, public participation and – not necessarily as classic – decriminalization of narcotics. The use of narcotics should, according to the Pirate Party, be handled as a medical and not a legal and judicial problem. They attract mostly young voters from the left. Seen as a bit tougher and not as ‘squeaky clean’ as the Left-Green Movement. The most well-known name in the party is Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who has already had one term in parliament, first as part of ‘Citizen’s Movement’ and then ‘Movement’.“

In short, it’s the fact that they already had an MP from a grassroots movement that is emphasized and that gives the pirates the space they need to succeed at taking themselves over the 5% barrier. With Birgitta’s help they were able to be elected with three MP’s.

The Pirate’s next challenge was to prove that they weren’t just some blip and that they could win elections without celebrity power, which they had a chance to do in the council elections in 2014. There they succeeded, with Halldór Auðar Svansson at the top of the list who was elected into Reykjavík City Council with 5.9%. Through participating in the new municipal government they showed that they were willing to take responsibility in future elections.

Today, the situation is different. The pirates have more candidates with parliamentary experience, and their prime ministerial candidate is Smari McCarthy. He isn’t currently an MP, but Smari was one of the founders of the party and tops one of the lists for a constituency outside Reykjavik (something he also did in the last election when the pirates didn’t reach 5% there). Birgitta remains a central figure in the party and currently proposed as a future speaker of the house for the next parliament. In general, more faces have been brought forward and the pirates are seen as a broad movement in Iceland. After one year of leading the opinion polls, the people of Iceland, and the pirates themselves, have gotten used to the idea that they will probably play a part in the next government.

I don’t think I can emphasize enough how important it would be for the pirate movement globally to have a government with pirate ministers. So it is with great hope that I have packed my bags and booked my journey to Iceland. I flew there for a bit in September to get an idea of who they are and how they work, and I look forward to seeing them again in the coming days. And, of course, there will be a new post here after the election.


Mattias Bjärnemalm
Vice-president and Net Political spokesperson for Pirate Party Sweden.

CC-BY, Stefan Rouden

Mattias Bjärnemalm works as an expert in Net Politics in the European Parliament and was previously Head of Cabinet for Amelia Andersdotter’s (ex-MEP) office in Brussels. He is born and raised in Skǻne (southern Sweden) but has also lived and studied in Uppsala, Sweden before moving to Brussels. During his time in Uppsala he founded the Young Pirates Sweden where he was the association Secretary 2006-2009. He was also active in the Pirate Students in Uppsala and sat as a member of the Uppsala University Board 2009-2010.

During his time in Brussels he has worked with several areas within Net Politics such as copyright, net neutrality, data protection, ACTA, IoT and the IANA transition. He is also a frequent visitor to the Internet Governance Forum and EuroDIG.

Mattias was also central in the creation of Young Pirates of Europe and also the European Pirates (where he is currently a board member).

Featured image: CC-BY, Day Donaldson

 Birgitta Jónsdóttir  Guest Opinion  Election  Herbert Snorrason  Stefán Vignir Skarphéðinsson  Smari McCarthy  PPIS  Halldóra Mogensen  Halldór Auðar Svansson  Jason Scott  Einar Valur Ingimundarson  Björn Þór Jóhannesson
A Party That Is About To Change Iceland And The World

A Party That Is About To Change Iceland And The World

Pirate Party of Iceland (PPIS) is the first pirate party ever to elect MPs in a national parliament. The founder of the pirate movement, Rick Falkvinge, was absolutely overwhelmed for being present at their latest General Assembly. In his short speech to the pirates, he mentioned the big historical moments of the pirate parties (from Sweden to Germany and now to Iceland) and Rick was warmly applauded when saying:
“You are about to change the world! It only takes one country to say enough is enough. It only takes one country to set the course for the future of civil rights. It only takes one country to tear down the gatekeepers of knowledge. As it seems Iceland is this country and the people in this room are about to write history! Thank you all! I’m so happy for you all!”


A questions that occupies the mind of pirates worldwide is if pirates in Iceland will take over the helm of the government. Well, only time will tell. The Icelandic Pirates have achieved a lot in a very short time and set the stage for a governmental change that would affect many people. They would not only change their own country but it would lead to a chain reaction for many other countries in Europe and the world. The conditions have been favorable for the Pirate Party in Iceland. The crisis in 2008 allowed grassroots movements to play a leading role in shaping policies in a more active way.

Also, the recent Panama Papers leak shook the country and made citizens turn their attention to Pirates. Pirate Party Iceland have, since April 2015, monopolized the first seat in the polls and continue to do so even today (after a short two months break). The failure, corruption and opacity of the old system has opened the way for the great success of the Pirate Party in Iceland.

Will Icelandic Pirates succeed and take over? It depends on their moves, on how well they organize their human resources, where they are going to spend their funding and how they defend the attacks of the status quo (whom know well how to play the power game). But it is true that Pirates of Iceland have the clear and unambiguous support of their compatriots and it seems that they will be the next government in their country.

The General Assembly of PPIS
Founded in 2012, with three MP’s at the moment in Althingi (the Icelandic Parliament), PPIS is leading the polls again and the climate of the General Assembly (GA) was exciting and full of enthusiasm. Parliamentary elections in Iceland are expected to take place in the coming autumn. Pirates must be prepared for the elections and have internal processes for their candidates.

On June 11-12th about 170 Pirates gathered in Reykjavik to hold the GA. The three MPs were there, as well as new and old members, a new Board and Arbitration Committee was voted, amendments in statutes were made concerning the collaboration between elected representatives, PPIS and citizens. The main thing of the GA was the presentation of the grassroot movement within the party.

Image/photo          Image/photo

On Saturday, June 11th, Asta Gudrun Helgadóttir (MP) talked about her experiences from the parliament to share her experiences with new potential candidates. The difference between being in a group of three MP’s instead of 20, which means a lot of prioritization.  Birgitta Jónsdóttir (MP) talked about how amazed she was with the success of the PPIS. Birgitta suggested that PPIS, as a political party, should make a ten year plan of where it is collectively headed. “That would improve people’s trust in us” she noted.


On Sunday, June 12th, Helgi Hrafn (MP) held his speech about critical thinking and told a story about his great-great-great grandfather. Tryggvi Bjarnason was an MP 1911-1913 and made  a law proposal that every library in the country should receive a free copy of every book ever published, at the time this was seen as preposterous. Helgi used this story to draw parallels between the rhetoric used back then and the one which can be seen today.

The elections of the new Board took place as well as the new Arbitration Committee and elections for other committees.

Work of the past Board
The outgoing Board, that started working on September 2015, presented how they had managed and organized the party during this time. Members of PPIS have increased significantly during the past year and they currently have more than 3.200 members. Its electoral influence brought the highest recognition to the party and the work of the outgoing Board was an important part of this. Among their achievements were the operation of Tortuga (the PPIS headquarters), the establishment of seven new departments of the party (throughout Iceland), the Pirate Party 60+ (for older citizens) and the hirings made (a general manager and an election manager).

Tortuga is the headquarters of PPIS which have really given a big push to the party. Tortuga has been a popular meeting place for the executive committee, other committees and councils within the party. Almost every night in the winter, Tortuga was booked for various meetings and discussions. The Board has worked to facilitate and promote the participation of the members in the policies of the party and other social activities.

Another interesting initiative, by Grímur Friðgeirsson, was the establishment of the Pirate Party 60+. The Board welcomes the establishment of the Pirate Party 60+ which concerns older citizens contact with the Pirate ideology.

One of the largest projects for the outgoing Board was to hire staff. After interviewing the most qualified applicants, Sigríður Bylgja Sigurjónsdóttir was hired as the general manager of the party. One of her first tasks was to hire an election manager; Jóhann Kristjánsson was hired (has experience of election management since before).

The changing of the board
The outgoing Board of PPIS consisted of Bergþór Heimir Þórðarson, Birgir Steinarsson, Björn Þór Jóhannesson, Friðfinnur Finnbjörnsson, Gunnar Ingi Berg Gudmundsson, Halldóra Sigrun Ásgeirsdóttir, Herbert Snorrason, Kári Gunnarsson, Sara Oskarsson, Sigmundur Þórir Jónsson, Ms Olga Cilia, Unnar Örn Ólafsson and Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir.

According to their statutes the GA elects five board members and five alternate board members. Additionally, two members are randomly selected to be part of the board and another two members for the alternative board.

Elín Ýr Arnar Hafdísardóttir was elected as the new chairwoman of the PPIS board for 2016-17. Other board members elected were Sunna Rós Víðisdóttir, Þórlaug Ágústsdóttir, Rannveig Ernudóttir, Eysteinn Jónsson. The two randomly selected board members were Halldóra Sigrún Ásgeirsdóttir and Jason Steinþórsson.

Alternate board members elected were Jónas Ingólfur Lövdal, Eiríkur Rafn Rafnsson, Gunnar Grímsson, Sindri Viborg, Guðmundur Hörður. The two randomly selected alternative board members were Daði Ingólfsson and Kári Valur Sigurðsson.
See More photos from the GA of PPIS

Watch Day 1 and Day 2 of the GA on the youtube channel of PPIS

All images under CC-BY-PPIS

The article was co-written by Julius Blomkvist Fridriksson

 Kári Valur Sigurðsson  Kári Gunnarsson  Ms Olga Cilia  Jónas Ingólfur Lövdal  Jason Steinþórsson  Jóhann Kristjánsson  Herbert Snorrason  Helgi Hrafn  Halldóra Sigrún Ásgeirsdóttir  Gunnar Ingi Berg Gudmundsson  Gunnar Grímsson  Guðmundur Hörður  Grímur Friðgeirsson  Friðfinnur Finnbjörnsson  Iceland  Björn Þór Jóhannesson  Birgitta Jónsdóttir  Birgir Steinarsson  Bergþór Heimir Þórðarson  Asta Gudrun Helgadóttir  General Assembly  Sunna Rós Víðisdóttir  Sigmundur Þórir Jónsson  Sara Oskarsson  Rick Falkvinge  Rannveig Ernudóttir  PPIS  Pirate Party 60+  Sindri Viborg  Sigrid Wave Sigurjónsdóttur  Eysteinn Jónsson  Elín Ýr Arnar Hafdísardóttir  Eiríkur Rafn Rafnsson  Daði Ingólfsson  Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir  Unnar Örn Ólafsson  Tortuga  Þórlaug Ágústsdóttir