By Glyn Moody
The Pirate Party of Iceland will receive a major funding boost from the state as a result of its high levels of public support.
As the Pirate Times site explains, a total of around £1.6 million is allocated to Icelandic political parties based on opinion polls held in February. At that time, the Icelandic Pirate Party had support from around 36 percent of the island’s population, while the dominant party in the current coalition government, the Progressives, had just 12 percent, compared to 24 percent in the previous elections.
As a result, the Icelandic Pirate Party will go into this autumn’s general election with a relatively large war chest, while the Progressives will find themselves comparatively lacking in funds. There are currently three Pirate MPs out of a total of 63 in the Icelandic parliament, the Alþingi, but it is increasingly likely that the Pirate Party will be one of the largest parties when the next government is formed.
According to an article in The Independent, “If the election were to be held tomorrow, the most likely outcome would be an alliance between the Pirates and the Independence Party or the Pirates and the Left-Greens.” The Icelandic Pirate Party’s policies include a 35-hour working week, direct democracy, and total drug decriminalisation.
The unusual structure of the Icelandic Pirate Party means that it is not clear who might become Prime Minister, although the chairperson of the parliamentary Pirate group, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, is considered the most likely candidate. Jónsdóttir told Democracy Now: “if nobody else can do it or wants to do it, then, you know, I would do it.” She also said that “My first act in office would be to start to prepare for the new constitution to be implemented.”
Another priority for the Icelandic Pirate Party is likely to be the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), of which Jónsdóttir is spokesperson alongside her political roles. The IMMI could have a major impact on the Internet, and not just in Iceland. It was adopted as a resolution by the country’s parliament in 2010, and aims to turn Iceland into an “international transparency haven,” but since then, progress has been slow.
If the Icelandic Pirate Party becomes one of the main groups in the next parliament, it could give a new impetus to the realisation of the IMMI’s aims. These include freedom of information rights; source protection for journalists; whistleblower protection; and new laws limiting prior restraint—the use of injunctions to stop material being published—and libel tourism, something for which the UK has become notorious. Another intriguing possibility is that Iceland might grant asylum and even Icelandic citizenship to Edward Snowden.