Friday, 4 May 2012

Can the Pirate Party Make A Difference?

Loz KayePolls have closed for the UK's local elections. It's too early to tell what the results are but already the buzz across the globe is that the Pirate Party are getting attention for their revolutionary approach to engaging with the public. Could this be the ticket to electoral success?

Making waves

The New York Times has not only acknowledged the existence of the Pirate Party as a growing force in European politics, it's noting the effect it's having on other political parties. Fringe groups are often dismissed and lose traction among the public either by introducing unworkable policies or because the other parties adopted their policies and diluted their message. Infighting doesn't help. The Pirate Party, however, has a different agenda. They're about openness and true democracy rather than following a dogmatic party doctrine. It's what makes them so attractive to voters who are sick and tired of "business as usual."

But their real goal, and the root of their success, is more meta: using the Internet to create a new structure of politics that can solve the problem of how to energize citizens — not only for the excitement of a campaign but also the often dreary realities of actual governance... The Pirates’ insight is that the Internet is both message and medium... There’s no reason the party’s lessons couldn’t be applied elsewhere, including the United States. One of the biggest problems for President Obama has been to maintain the vigorous online following that Candidate Obama generated in 2008. But while the Obama campaign at least gave the impression that he was influenced by input from his supporters, they have been shut out of the White House. - Steve Kettmann, New York Times

Basically, it doesn't matter what technology they've got, they actively engage with the public and include them in policy discussions, and the public are lovin' it!


  • To hold MPs to account. We will introduce a new right for constituents to force a by-election in the event of a loss of confidence in their MP.

  • To make elected representatives accessible.

  • To defend whistleblowers. We will bring in new legal rights to for individuals exposing corrupt or illegal activities.

  • To work for open data and transparency. All available information that could be released under freedom of information request should be public by default.

  • To fight for a genuinely free media. Large broadcast groups should not have the opportunity to adversely dominate the media, and we will support legislation for net neutrality.

- Pirate Party pledges.

Is there a place for them in the UK?

The biggest barriers to getting elected in the UK are misconceptions, public apathy, and the first-past-the-post system. Indeed, most people I know are so convinced that the usual suspects will get in that they purposely either don't vote at all or vote for the major parties. Historically, the UK's Pirate Party hasn't garnered many votes, but the success of the Parties in Germany, Austria, and Sweden are raising its profile and Loz Kaye has been interviewed for the national daily papers. He's even written for the Guardian. It's this infiltration that's going to do the party good in the long term even if they haven't won any seats in the local elections. As the message seeps into the national consciousness and people stop seeing them as idealistic radicals, they'll start to gain traction, then seats in the local councils, then, hopefully, seats in parliament.

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