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Security Policies

Could the Panama Papers lead to the Pirate Party ruling Iceland?

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson announced this week he was to step aside from office as a result of the Panama Papers leak and the news that he and his wife were keeping money in offshore accounts. 

Opposition parties are now calling for a snap election as a result, and the Icelandic Pirate Party have said they are ready for such an eventuality. But is Pirate rule possible in Reykjavik? According to the polls, absolutely.

The most recent polling from Monday suggests the Pirates will dominate the elections and gain over 40% of the vote, giving them around 26 of the 63 available seats.

The party currently has three seats in Althing, the Icelandic parliament, having won 5.1% of the vote in the 2013 elections, but became the most popular political party in March of last year after a surge in the polls.

“In these strange times anything is possible,” party leader Birgitta Jónsdóttir told the Independent. “But, of course, if it happens we are ready.”

The Pirate Party was set up in 2006 by Swedish entrepreneur Rick Falkvinge to combat copyright, and is present in more than 60 countries. Each country’s party is a separate entity with their own specific policies, but generally advocate online freedom and privacy, reforming copyright laws, free and open source technology, and open access/transparency.

Traditionally the party makes little impact in elections – in the UK for example the party gained less than 1% in any of the constituencies it ran in - but has seen some success in the European Parliament, where Germany’s Julia Reda is currently the party’s sole representative.

So what could we expect from an Iceland run by Pirates? No doubt a Liberal, vaguely Libertarian government that is tough on banks and businesses. It would be interesting to see what kind of copyright laws the party might pass and whether the island would become a haven of immunity for services such as the Pirate Bay and its ilk. Expect the world’s music and film industry to be very afraid.

Additional Reading:

Politicians Talk Tech: Cris Chesha, Pirate Party UK

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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