Iceland Pirate Party Hopes to Improve Government Transparency

By Allegra Berg
Staff Writer

On November 28, Iceland voted to elect a new government. Within Iceland’s 63-seat Parliament, the Pirate Party, along with the Left Greens and two allies gained 27 seats, as reported by The Guardian. The Pirate Party is the newest party and “about 40 percent of Pirates supporters are under the age of 40,” according to the New York Times. All of the supporters of the group hope that the Pirate Party will be more inclusive and help the government be more transparent. In response to these demands, they have promised to create the world’s first “crowd-sourced constitution.”

The Pirate Party is the second largest party along with the conservative Independent Party, as reported by Iceland Monitor. The group’s main goal is to redistribute money and increase the power the government has to stop corruption. They also believe that asylum should be given to whistleblowers, there should no longer be a ban on drugs, and that there should be a reduction in restrictions against the virtual currency Bitcoin. The Pirate Party emerged after a wave of anger swept Iceland after the 2008 economic crash.

Following the Pirate Party’s gain in political ground in 2013, the previous Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced from office when it was leaked that he was involved within the Panama Papers. His resignation helped to trigger the election.

After Gunnlaugsson’s resignation, Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson was appointed to help pave the way. As reported by The New York Times, he left office the Progressive Party’s seats collapsed from 19 to 8 seats within the Parliament after the election.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, the anarchist leader of the Pirate Party, compared her party’s members to “Robin Hood,” noting that “Robin Hood was a pirate” who also wanted to “take the power from the powerful to give it to the people.” While the supporters of the Pirate Party see their actions as beneficial to their country, the question arises as to how this may affect Iceland’s Parliament, and after the recent elections how this will bring change to Iceland and their government in the coming weeks.

Following the vote, Iceland’s center-right Independence Party was asked to form a new government on November 2, according to the Wall Street Journal. While previous polls had suggested that the Pirate Party had a good chance of snatching the votes from the Independence Party, the Independence Party had a clear win with 29 percent of the votes, keeping the Independent Party in control as it has been for seven decades.

Independence Party Leader Bjarni Benediktsson, who has been asked to form a majority government, noted that his “first step is to start a conversation with the leaders of the other parties.” It has been made clear, however, that the leaders of the other two parties do not wish to cooperate and work with the Independence Party, which could provide a challenge for Mr. Benediktsson.

As he has been asked to create a new majority government, Mr. Benediktsson must obtain the majority of seats. If he fails to obtain 32 of the 63 seats needed to obtain a majority, then the Pirate Party will be prepared to obtain a majority over the government.

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