Today the Swedish Pirate Party has published its election manifesto for the upcoming elections that will take place in September. With more experience than during their first run in 2006, the Pirate Party hopes to secure several seats in Parliament by focusing on issues surrounding privacy, culture and knowledge. Foremost, non-commercial file-sharing should be legalized and encouraged.
The eyes of the world are often on Sweden when it comes to file-sharing. It was once the home of The Pirate Bay, and also the place where the first Pirate Party was founded. These two pillars have become increasingly entwined over the past years.
In May 2006, a few months after the Pirate Party was founded, it saw a sharp increase in members after Swedish police raided The Pirate Bay’s servers. As a result the Party gained interest from the mainstream media and at the general elections in the same year it became the third largest party outside parliament.
With three years more experience, the Pirate Party participated in the elections for the European Parliament in Sweden in 2009. These elections came a few weeks after four people associated with The Pirate Bay were sentenced to prison, something that was brought up repeatedly during the campaign. As a result, the Pirate Party got more than 7% of the total votes earning them two seats in the European Parliament.
For the upcoming election, The Pirate Bay will also be a central theme in the election campaign. In May the Pirate Party volunteered to provide bandwidth to The Pirate Bay after previous hosts got into legal trouble. Two months later, the Party surprised again by stating that it would use Parliamentary immunity to run the site from inside the Swedish Parliament.
In the upcoming elections this September the Party hopes to equal the success it achieved in the European elections last year. Today the Party released its manifesto, which has grown from 7 pages back in 2006 to 27 today. The manifesto is divided into three parts, which are the core elements the Party is focusing on – privacy, culture and knowledge.
As expected, the Pirate Party stays true to their well-known principles regarding copyright and file-sharing. The Party believes that non-commercial file-sharing should be legalized. On the other side of the coin, they are proposing charges for those attempting to sue individuals for non-commercial copying. Inhibiting the spread of culture and “copyright abuse” would potentially carry a jail sentence of up to 2 years.
Although they are often portrayed as a one issue party, file-sharing related paragraphs are actually in the minority. Securing offline privacy is also a major issue, such as the ability to travel freely within the country without having to submit to identity checks. The Party further believes that medical, biological and software patents should be abolished, even though they are no longer calling for the abolition of patents in general.
Pirate Party Supporter Waving the Flag
“We’re aiming for entry into Parliament,” Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told us. “Just like in the European elections, anything above four point zero zero percent is a political achievement that will send shockwaves worldwide. At present, we’re polling between one and two percent, mostly because the election campaigns haven’t started yet.”
“We still need some kind of key symbol issue, but then again, we’re much better off today than we were equally long before the European elections last year. We were invisible in the polls until 38 days before that election. We know that we can sprint like no other, and that we have the activists to carry our weight. It’s going to be a tough race right until the vote counts are coming in on election night,” Falkvinge told us.
Based on the current standings in the polls a sprint is indeed needed, but the Party may once again get some help from outside to achieve this. Coincidentally, the elections are held just a few days before the appeal of the Pirate Bay four begins. Because of this, the issues so dear to the Pirate Bay and its supporters may play an important role in the political debates.
“Our readers should vote for the Pirate Party because a Pirate entry into the Swedish Parliament is going to make a tremendously larger impact than keeping or switching prime ministers. It’s going to save the Internet from censorship, wiretapping and encroachment.”
An invasion of pirates into the political system is what Sweden really needs in order to save the Internet, according to Falkvinge. “It’s going to liberate our common culture. It’s going to change not just Sweden but the world. Be a part of that change and tell it to your grandchildren.”