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4 Jul, 2016 13:52

With football dreams dashed, Iceland's Pirate Party gets down to transforming its economy

With football dreams dashed, Iceland's Pirate Party gets down to transforming its economy

With the distraction of a major European sports tournament out of the way, the tiny island nation of Iceland and its fewer than 325,000 citizens can now get back to the main business at hand - rebuilding its economy.

What was a sinking ship, caused mostly by a few 'banksters' who have since ‘walked the plank’ right into prison, could soon be ‘captained’ by the Pirate Party, which is leading in the polls going into its upcoming election.

READ MORE: Jailed bankers, gender equality & majestic fjords - 6 reasons to love Iceland

The direct democracy, anti-establishment party co-founded by former Wikileaks spokesperson Birgitta Jónsdóttir currently holds just three of the 63 seats in the world’s oldest national parliament, the Alþingi, which used to convene at Þingvellir, an awesome outdoor site straight out of Game of Thrones.

These days, working from the not-too-shabby capital of Reykjavík, the Pirate Party’s core policies to protect privacy and give “the powerless the power to monitor the powerful” have captured the electorate, putting them in first place at 28.3 percent, based on an average of five polls since May.

According to news outlet Kjarninn and Boston University researcher Baldur Hedinsson, this is potentially bad news for the current center-right coalition government in power since 2013.

Part of a global Pirate movement which originally ‘appeared on the horizon’ of Swedish politics back in 2006, Iceland’s party is currently outpacing coalition members Independence Party (24 percent) and the Progressive Party (10 percent), as well as the Left Greens (16.8 percent), which could team up with the frontrunners for their own alliance after the election.

While a date has yet to be set for the general election, it is expected to take place in the coming months, reports Icelandic national broadcaster RUV.

Pirate jokes aside, party leaders are pragmatic about their popularity and admitted that they do not expect election results to reflect the polls exactly.

“We definitely don’t anticipate that the next election will bring about the same results that the polls have been showing,” Jónsdóttir told the Australian Financial Review. “That’s too optimistic. But our support has forced other parties to take a closer look at themselves.”

According to the English language magazine Reykjavik Grapevine, the party has been top of the polls for most of the year, which “spells trouble” for the current political leaders.

Following mass protests, ‘Oxbridge’ alumnus Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson from the Progressive Party stepped aside as Prime Minister in April when his name was linked to an offshore account in the #PanamaPapers leak.

READ MORE: Panama Papers leak leads to ‘largest protest’ in Iceland’s history

While the economy remains as the top agenda item for any Icelandic political party, the Pirates are also pushing for the decriminalization of drugs, similar to Portugal’s new policy, as well as copyright reform and government transparency.