Icelandic Pirates secure 3rd place in parliamentary elections

Led by poet and WikiLeaks activist Birgitta Jonsdottir, the Pirate Party is securing 14.5 percent of the vote, gaining nine seats in the legislative body. The ruling Independence Party is leading with 28.5 percent, while the Greens are running second with 17 percent.

Some 246,000 people were eligible to vote in the election, in which more than a dozen parties competed for the 63-seat parliament. However, only about half of them gained more than 5 percent of the vote required to receive representation in the parliament.

The Pirates and the Greens had earlier agreed to form a coalition of the three left-wing opposition parties if their votes were to collectively obtain a majority after the election.

The Pirate party, founded in 2012, ran on the platform of promise to get rid of the 72-year-old constitution and replace it with a “crowd-sourced” document. It also promised to hold a possible referendum on joining the European Union.

Taking advantage of public anger following the Panama Papers scandal in April and acting on fears of perceived political corruption in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, the Pirate Party offered full governmental transparency, individual freedoms and the fight against corruption.

The Pirates seek to decriminalize drugs and introduce a policy of offering asylum to whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. They also want to champion the use of bitcoin virtual currency.

Following Saturday’s strong result, Iceland’s Pirate Party may become the world’s first Pirate movement to be included in a government coalition. In its first electoral bid, in 2013 parliamentary election, the Pirate Party won 5.1 percent of the vote, just above the 5 percent threshold required to win representation.

Iceland is a parliamentary republic run by a directly-elected president and 63-seat legislative assembly. The MPs are elected from Icelandic constituencies by proportional representation. Any political party, or coalition of parties, with 32 MPs can form a majority government.

European political anti-establishment trend is on the rise, as evidenced by the popularity of the Syriza party in Greece, Podemos in Spain, as well as Germany’s AfD and Britain’s UKIP parties.