Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Could Iceland Give Us The World's First Pirate Party In Government?

Icelandic Pirate Party
Saturday 29th October 2016 will go down in the annals of Pirate history as the day the Pirates had a shot at taking part in a national government.

This is why it's important.

It's about democracy


The democratic deficit in the Western world has been growing, hence the lack of interest in politics among the general population. Turnout tends to be low since the choice generally tends to be Dumb and Dumber; people end up voting for the party they dislike the least in case the party they dislike the most gets in. However, they tend to feel disenfranchised and left out of the policy-making process by governments that appear to believe that being voted in to office means carte blanche to do as they will whether people like it or not. That's why activism is so important. Whether politicians like it or loathe it, they need to pay attention to us. We can make a difference.

Real representation


Agitation via direct meetings, protests, and petitions is all well and good but what's even better is getting a party into office that actually represents the people and executes their wishes. In Iceland the two main parties have had a big shock and there's a possibility that the Pirates and their allies in the Left-Green Movement might actually be able to form a government based on a five-party coalition. We've seen what just one MEP can do. Imagine what ten members of a sixty three seat parliament could achieve. Honestly, I'm salivating at the prospect; even if they don't end up in a governing coalition they can still get a lot of good work done. As it is, nothing has been decided yet, the president is in the process of deciding which of the parties he should mandate to form a majority government. This has never been a more exciting time to be a Pirate.

The status quo isn't working for us


People are fed up of corruption. Financial scandals at the highest levels of government have created a wave of  revulsion and a desire to upend the Establishment in Western countries and their allies. I've been documenting the rise of Trump in America, which I firmly believe is the public's desire to break out of the two-party system and usher in an age of real representation. When the options are Stupid or Crooked, the choice is between having your teeth torn out or your fingernails ripped off. People want more choice, real representation, and transparency and accountability in government. The anti-government faction in America has successfully diverted attention away from accountability among its base by presenting government as incapable of delivering governance at all, so all they'll ever do is vote for a self-fulfilling prophesy of ever-increasing awfulness (I thought Romney was bad, but Trump...! The worst thing is, he makes the weak-sauce Reformicons look progressive. That's a problem on multiple levels). Situations like this are unfolding, to a greater or lesser extent, in Western countries under the neoliberal yoke because the two party system only provides the illusion of choice and the people know it.

Why vote Pirate?


The binary two-party option is not working and their policies aren't working. We want change and are willing to vote radicals in to effect it. So why vote Pirate? Because lack of experience in government is not a good enough reason not to; the Pirates have a chance to be part of a coalition, not to actually run Iceland. The democratic deficit has created a vacuum and we are willing and able to fill it. Whether the Pirates end up being part of the ruling coalition or not (none of the parties has a clear enough majority to govern), they will still have an impact. I really, truly hope they make the most of the opportunity they've been given, whatever it happens to be in the end. The eyes of the world are on Iceland to see what the Pirates can achieve. If we can prove that we're capable of taking part in the governing of one Western nation I can easily see that rubbing off in elections elsewhere. Imagine voting in a Pirate MP over here. What about a Pirate Congressman or Senator? It will happen if we make it happen, and honestly, I think people are waiting to see what happens in Iceland before they decide whether or not we're just a protest party. If we prove we can govern, people will have to take us seriously.

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