Most Americans are not too concerned with events in the European Parliament. There is not a ton of news coverage for the subject in America. However, today we can all learn something about working so that our voices are heard. Yesterday in the 2009 European Parliament Elections, the Swedish Pirate Party secured one (possibly 2) seats in the European Parliament (source):
With 99.9% of the districts counted the Pirates have 7.1 percent of the votes, beating several established parties. This means that the Pirate Party will get at least one, but most likely two of the 18 (+2) available seats Sweden has at the European Parliament.
Founded in 2006, the Pirate Party is a political party in Sweden led by Rick Falkvinge. It’s goals are primarily restricted to the reform of copyright laws and patent laws, though it’s Wiki page list the Pirate Party’s political ideology as “Freedom of Information, Privacy, Anarchism.” It is estimated that the Pirate Party got 200,000 votes, an extremely significant increase over the 2006 elections, where the party managed to get about 34,000 votes.
Yesterday, Mr. Falvinge was quoted as saying:
Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it. This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance.
How did the Pirate Party grow so quickly. Within 2 years, they have become a huge political party in Sweden. Most recently, there was a huge increase in Pirate Party membership due to the guilty verdict levied in the Pirate Bay trial. After the verdict, membership in the Pirate Party more than tripled to 48,000 members. For those of you who do not know about The Pirate Bay, here is why they were charged (and also why a lot of people got pissed off about it):
The Pirate Bay “spectrial” has ended in a guilty verdict, prison sentences for the defendants, and a shared 30 million kronor ($3.5 million) fine. According to the Swedish district court, the operators of the site were guilty of assisting copyright infringement, even though The Pirate Bay hosted none of the files in question and even though other search engines like Google also provide direct access to illegal .torrent files.
A ‘guilty’ verdict for The Pirate Bay is probably the best thing that could have ever happened for the Pirate Party. It’s utterly ironic if you ask me. The Pirate Bay supporters just love the idea of free torrents. But don’t be fooled. The Los Angeles Times referred to the Pirate Bay as “one of the world’s largest facilitators of illegal downloading” and “the most visible member of a burgeoning international —or pro-piracy—movement” (source). But who can you really trust nowadays anyway? The Los Angeles Times? Everyone’s got an angle. Even not having an angle is an angle. (That’s me!)
Christian Engström, Vice Chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party, is the top candidate for one of the party’s seats in the European Parliament. When he arrived at the the celebration in Stockholm yesterday he said, “It’s great fun to be a pirate right now.” I’d have to agree with that. I wonder if they’ll make any dent in copyright and patent laws. I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.