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The Pirate Party surges in Iceland’s parliamentary elections

The Pirate Party of Iceland claimed ten parliamentary seats in Saturday's election, the biggest haul ever for the anti-establishment political movement.


Chris Tognotti


Posted on Oct 30, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 4:47 pm CDT

The results are in, and Iceland is increasingly now home to a burgeoning political force. On the heels of a huge election night for the nascent political movement, the Pirate Party is tied for the second-most seats in the Icelandic parliament. This marks the first time the Pirate Party has ever achieved such a level of actual power within a national government, having snapped up ten seats in the parliament, along with ten seats going to the Left-Greens.

All in all, between the Pirates and three other left-wing parties that it had eyed to form a ruling coalition in parliament, 27 seats were picked up—just five shy of claiming that precious majority. Nevertheless, Pirate Party MP and founder Birgitta Jonsdottir told Reuters that the night was a roaring success, and that the Pirates outdid their own expectations based on internal polling. “Our internal predictions showed 10 to 15 percent, so this is at the top of the range,” she said. “We knew that we would never get 30 percent.”

Founded in 2012, the Icelandic Pirate Party has been the most successful iteration of the movement, which swept across Europe starting with the Swedish Pirate Party, established back in 2006. Cobbling together a coalition of left-wingers, transparency advocates, hackers, anarchists, and people broadly opposed to what they perceive as onerous patent and copyright laws, various national Pirate Parties have been launched throughout the European Union, the Icelandic version being the one that’s enjoyed the most prominent electoral success.

It’s worth noting that, while an individual member of the Pirate Party (like any political party) may have their own views, they’re broadly sympathetic to high-profile leaking organization WikiLeaks, and its controversial founder Julian Assange. The official WikiLeaks Twitter account mentioned the Pirates’ chances of claiming a parliamentary majority on Saturday, prior to the votes being counted.

Sadly for its supporters, however, no such sweeping sea change was coming. To the contrary, as the nation’s Progressive Party imploded?along with the resignation of former Progressive Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who was brought down by the release of the Panama Papers earlier this year?the conservative Independence Party has slid in to fill the void, meaning the nation of Iceland will be under center-right rule for the time being. But it’s nonetheless a major electoral achievement and one that the traditionally dominant parties in Iceland will surely take note of.

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*First Published: Oct 30, 2016, 6:38 pm CDT