Upstart Pirate Party senses victory in Iceland elections

The Washington Post is reporting in "Iceland, a land of Vikings, braces for a Pirate Party takeover" that: "The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland's national elections on Saturday didn't exist four years ago".

Until this week the esoteric political party had led the polls in Iceland, though the latest opinion poll puts the group a single point behind the center-right Independence Party, which is now a junior member in the country's coalition government.

The public face of the Icelandic Pirate Party, Birgitta Jonsdottir is a hacker, cyberspace anarchist, poet - and a rather reluctant politician. Gunnlaugsson's party, according to the University of Iceland's poll, is now in third place at 9.1 percent, or 13 percentage points behind the Pirate Party.

The party's sudden success has surprised Birgitta Jonsdottir, the most senior of three Pirate lawmakers in Iceland's 63-seat parliament, the Althingi. That's not enough to take the government outright, and party leaders have already said they will not ally with the Independence Party.

A lawmaker since 2009, she is among the most politically experienced Pirates.

Protesters gather outside of the Parliament building in the wake of the Panama Papers crisis on April 5 in Reykjavik. Read a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (in English) with Iceland Pirate Party representatives here.

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein). Pirate party pin badges ready for distribution to the public during an advertising event for the upcoming Iceland Parliamentary Elections at a shopping mall in Reykjavik, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

"It's going to be a great day for democracy in Iceland on Saturday, it's historic times for us really and we're really happy that everyone is looking". He was a casualty of the leaked Panama Papers, which revealed offshore assets held by him and dozens of other high-profile figures.

This anti-establishment message resonated with some Icelanders and the Pirates gained a seat in parliament in 2013.

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"I want change. I don't like everything that the Pirates are proposing, but if we want change, it's the best party", said labourer Einar Hannesson, 42.

The Pirate Party does not see the country leaving the European Economic Area (EEA) and Schengen deals for a new agreement with the United Kingdom after the Brexit vote, she said.

The Pirate Party managed to attract the support of ordinary Icelanders through its unconventional and unorthodox platforms: setting policies through online polls, a bold ambition to make Iceland the next "Switzerland" of digital snooping - which is to say, a safe haven for those who might otherwise commit digital crimes punishable by law elsewhere - and an offer for Edward Snowden to call Iceland a home, should the party win.

She said that since 2008 Iceland has had governments of both left and right, "and people have not been happy with how they managed austerity or how they managed the economy".

In comparison to the traditional groups, the four-year-old Pirate Party is able to present itself as an outsider.

Why is the Pirate Party popular?

Iceland has also seen the rise of the Pirate Party as a political force.

Jonsdottir insists the Pirates would not make major economic changes.

  • Ismael Montgomery