Institutional Affairs

'Pirates' to run joint campaign in next EU elections

16.04.12 @ 09:29

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - 'Pirate' parties from around the EU have agreed to campaign as one bloc and to try and form a group in the European Parliament in the 2014 elections.

  • Pirate-party-decorated statues in Brussels (Photo: Didier Misson)

The decision came at a congress of the so-called Pirate Parties International, a Brussels-based NGO, in Prague over the weekend.

"The Prague conference is the first step in the joint campaign for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament ... Key issues for the pirate parties are transparency, an open state and better communication with the citizens," Mikulas Ferjencik, the deputy head of the Czech pirate faction told AFP.

The PPI meeting also admitted two new pirate parties (from Greece and Slovakia), debated how to bring down the international anti-counterfeit treaty, Acta, and issues such as "nerd-fatalism" and "nerd-determinism" - defined by one speaker, respectively, as "politics are shit so I don't participate" and "whatever law you make, I'll hack around it."

Originally named after an Internet file-sharing site called 'The Pirate Bay' back in 2006, pirate parties have surged in popularity in Austria and Germany in recent months.

A poll by broadcaster RTL in March recorded support for German pirates on 13 percent, in third place after the centre-right Christian Democrats and the centre-left SPD, but way ahead of government coalition partners, the liberal FDP party.

FDP foreign minister Guido Westerwelle in an interview out on Monday in Handelsblatt described the movement as a threat to German foreign policy in terms of protecting intellectual property in countries such as China and Russia

In Austria, a pirate party on Sunday (15 April) got almost four percent in regional elections in Innsbruck, gaining seats for the first time in a regional assembly.

Pirate parties currently exist in over 50 countries worldwide, including Belarus and post-Arab-Spring Tunisia, and in all but one - Malta - EU member states.

The last EU elections in 2009 saw two Swedish pirate candidates win seats in Strasbourg - 42-year-old Christian Engstrom and 24-year-old Amelia Andersdotter, the youngest member of the assembly. They joined the Green group and are members of the industry, legal affairs and internal market committees, as well as delegaions to south-east Asia and Korea.

In a potential foretaste of things to come, the pair have diligently attended plenary sessions and voted in line with Green party positions.

Engstrom has drafted one report: on the 'Internet of Things,' the practice of giving digital tags to physical objects, such as export products or household appliances, so that they can be monitored or controlled online.

The two MEPs have shown an interest in amendments, resolutions and parliamentary questions on a list of subjects which goes beyond Internet issues such as Acta and Wikileaks, and includes civil liberties in Burma, the persecution of Christian minorities in the Middle East, the salaries of EU officials and civil liberties in Hungary.