Jim Carroll

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Voters look beyond the pirates when it comes to making a protest

The Pirate Party’s focus on copyright reform did not chime with voters in this year’s European elections

Fri, Jun 6, 2014, 09:55


You can always rely on the European elections to deliver some choice narratives. Thanks to voters in Ireland and Britain, the new intake of representatives heading to parliament will include such characters as Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and a large bunch of UKIP lads in suits clutching pints of real ale and fistfuls of sterling notes. Fun times ahead in Strasbourg and Brussels for sure.

Alas, one of the stories of the last European election was not repeated this time around. Back in 2009, the election of two Swedish Pirate Party candidates ensured a huge bump in profile for the Pirate Bay-affiliated group. It was thought that the party might go on to become a Europe-wide force on the back of that profile-raising victory.

This time around, though, the group didn’t have much to email home about. Its brace of Swedish MEPs lost their seats and the party ended up with just one elected rep in the shape of Germany’s Julia Reda. Meanwhile, one of the Pirate Party’s candidates in Finland, Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde, was arrested in Sweden after two years on the run.

The party’s percentage share of the vote was noteworthy in countries like Slovenia and the Czech Republic, though not quite enough to win seats. It seems European voters were happy to look elsewhere when it came to casting a protest vote.

There’s also a sense that many voters don’t necessarily consider copyright reform as all that important in the greater scheme of things. The Pirate Party might point to a raft of policies in other areas but, by and large, they were seen as an one-issue group and people had already promised their protest vote to other parties and candidates. Then again, unlike some failed Europe-wide political entities like Libertas, they at least managed to get someone elected.