Thursday, October 15, 2009

Arr Matey! Pirate Party Making Waves in European Politics

This is an interesting story from the Personal Democracy Forum on the Swedish and German Pirate Party, anti-Establishment political parties primarily made up of young voters, who have experienced rapid growth in recent years. The Swedish Pirate Party experienced its first taste of success in June of this year when the Pirate Party earned its first seat in the European Parliament.

Key quote from the article:
The “pirates” connect with young people using cultural expressions of political rejection with a sense of humour and intelligent criticism. They have traded in the stone-throwing and barricades typical of the German anarchist or antifascist movements that used to fascinate a sector of the German critical youth for smiles, jokes and digital culture. Young agitators, for example, have followed Angela Merkel to all her meetings to applaud her by shouting “Yeaaah”. Without disturbing public order but putting themselves in the public eye through aesthetic parody, they have organised a voting “flash mob”, a carnivalesque movement organised and announced electronically via mobile phone and the internet that “followed” the candidate. As a result, they have become part of the electoral landscape and their mocking and joking presence has been echoed in the media. Even Angela Merkel herself, to her credit, has greeted them from the podium on more than one occasion (“My young Internet friends”). The “alternatives” know how to communicate.

But what is important in political terms is that a party that emerged from the web is achieving a political presence in Europe not only due to young people’s discontent with the politics of the traditional parties with regard to the internet, but also because of their discontent and indifference towards those traditional parties themselves as well as their politics. The fact that, for the first time, a “native” internet organisation especially committed to the most progressive aspects of the web reached the heights of parliamentary representation is a historic landmark that may be the path of the future.

In a time of increasing alienation and rage at the politics of the two major American political parties by American voters (and general public), it is interesting to see if a similar political phenomenon occurs in the US as the Pirate Parties of Europe in the near future.

Full story at the Personal Democracy Forum

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