Not only is Sweden home to the world's largest Torrent site (despite its recent legal woes), pirates in the country also have their own political party, aptly titled the Pirate Party. The party lists deregulating copyright, abolishing the patent system, and reducing surveillance on the internet as some of its objectives.
Late last week, Europe held election for the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union. The Pirate Party apparently appealed to Swedish voters, as it scored 7.1 percent of the vote, enough to snag a nice bounty -- a seat in the Parliament.
Christian Engstrom, the party's top candidate, cheered the news, stating, "This is fantastic! This shows that there are a lot of people who think that personal integrity is important and that it matters that we deal with the Internet and the new information society in the right way."
Ironically, reports are indicating that it was the conviction of the leaders of Swedish torrent site the Pirate Bay that catapulted the party into the public eye. The ringleaders of the site were sentence to a year in jail and over $3M USD in fines; however, it was later revealed that the judge on the case was a member of copyright protection organizations and should have recused himself. An appeal is ongoing.
The site and the party are not officially linked. However, the two entities share similar philosophical views on many topics. The Pirate Party was founded in 2006 and had in the past received less than 1 percent of the vote.
Sweden has 18 seats on the EU's 785-seat Parliament. While the single Pirate seat will be unlikely to be able to enact sweeping change, party leaders believe it will give the party a voice and means to fight decisions it views as corrupt.
Mr. Engstrom thanks younger voters for the election success, saying, "We are very strong among those under 30. They are the ones who understand the new world the best. And they have now signaled they don't like how the big parties deal with these issues. We will use all of our strength to defend personal integrity and our civil rights."
There have been attempts to launch a similar Pirate Party in the U.S., but they have thus far gained little traction.