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As already mentioned by The Lobby in June (see Pirates could secure two seats in new European Parliament) the Swedish Pirate Party has secured another seat in the European Parliament following the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
Amelia Andersdotter, 22, is on her way to Brussels, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, perhaps ironically, a Treaty she is personally not in favour of. But as she says herself in an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, “if it now has to enter into force, it’s good that the Pirate Party gains another seat…[as] two people can perform double the amount of work” (free translation).
She effectively becomes the European Parliament’s youngest MEP.
Well done, say we at The Lobby!
As Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström prepares to take up his seat in the Committee for Legal Affairs (JURI) and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the new European Parliament, infamous Swedish file-sharing site the Pirate Bay is yet again suffering a broadside – this time from the US movie industry, according to the Ars Technica blog.
Despite the Pirate Bay operators’ attempts to woo a potential buyer in order to convert the site into a legal site (think Napster or Kazaa, going from illegal to legal), the Pirate Bay is now facing legal action from several major US studios including Columbia Pictures, Disney, and Warner Bros. The key argument behind the legal actions is that the site operators are, despite the guilty verdict they faced in April of this year, continuing their activities.
The pro-piracy and pro-privacy debate (and indeed movement for that matter) is not about to go away, and with Mr Engström firmly in place in Brussels for the next five years, surely the three core principles of the Pirate Party will gain more prominence on a European level, namely that “personal integrity must be protected, that culture must be set free and that patents and private monopolies are hurting society”.
Ironically however, much of the technology that is being hailed as tools of freedom of expression and for allowing cheap global access to culture (for example the use of Twitter in Iran and Google books etc) is under attack by regulators. Wired magazine reports that President Obama’s top anti-trust official is gunning for Google, something The Lobby thought the EU could do in the future, Twitter is attracting attention from the US Federal Trade Commission, and over here in Europe we’ve already seen a lot of debate being generated over the pros and cons of the EU Telecoms Package.
While all agree on the need for standards, rules and legislation, regulators should consider treading lightly so as not to tread too heavy-handedly on dreams of freedom of expression, liberty and access to culture…
(UPDATE 30/07/09: According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, the acquisition of the Pirate Bay file-sharing site by Swedish software company Global Gaming Factory (GGF) X AB is going ahead and will be completed during the last week of August. The article states that GGF are in final talks with one of the music industry’s four “giants” (i.e. Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music and EMI) with regard to turning the site into a legal operation.
A few rather unusual new members of the new European Parliament introduced by Le Figaro newspaper reflect a new direction within EU politics.
It seems that EU citizens no longer solely choose their representatives along the traditional left-right lines but instead opt for personalities and specific issues that cannot be classified simply as “right wing” or “left wing”. New campaign topics and campaigning tools are creating a new form of public opinion which can be very fast-moving, very topic-focused, and very much linked to charismatic personalities.
A few recent electoral successes illustrate this point well: a media-friendly Finnish priest known for his sense of humour (“Father Mitro”), who’s stated he will never stop wearing his cassock, gathered more than 71,000 direct votes, although he decided to go with the Social Democrats only in May; the Swedish Pirate Party which fights for the freedom of access to the internet and the right to online privacy won 1 seat, despite the party only being created in 2006; the sudden focus on transparency has led to populists such as Austrian Hans-Peter Martin being re-elected; the Greens have shown that citizens now care as much about the environment as about social and economic issues; and the revival of nationalist and xenophobic parties in some countries poses a serious threat to traditional democratic parties.
Today, debates flare up and die out very quickly. Politicians who catch the right trends at the right moment can enjoy substantial success.
Now, with all these guys around, who says the new Parliament won’t be hitting the headlines in the months ahead?
Ellen Söderberg is only 18 years old and is still in high school.
She’s also a pirate…
Ellen is an MEP candidate for the Swedish Pirate Party, the second most popular party in Sweden among voters aged 18-29 years. In an interview with The Local she says she hopes “to get a more open EU Parliament, to speak about integrity, surveillance and piracy. Knowledge is a right as a human. I want knowledge and culture to be free”.
Despite being presently predicted to gain up to two seats in the European Parliament the Swedish Pirate Party still has an uphill struggle ahead of them. They might have the election’s youngest candidate on their side, as well as up to 6% of Swedish voters backing them, but the key for a party that has so much young support, is to make sure theses youngster actually cast their votes on the big day.
Perhaps Ellen’s aspirations and young age will motivate other young voters?
Sweden, the home of IKEA, Volvo, ABBA, and of course the much publicised Pirate Bay file sharing website, has today seen the underdog in the lead-up to the European Elections, the Pirate Party, become Sweden’s 3rd largest political party. Only the Social Democrats and the Moderate Party have a greater number of followers in the latest polls.
Since the Pirate Bay verdict three weeks ago, the Pirate Party has tripled its ranks and now boasts over 43,000 members. Party leader Rick Falkvinge told TorrentFreak, a blog dedicated to the popular file sharing protocol BitTorrent, that “I’m extremely optimistic. It’s not a question of ‘a’ seat any more. If everybody who is angry with the Pirate Bay verdict goes to vote, we will get at least one seat, and probably more.”
The four men behind the Pirate Bay might have walked the plank, but if Falkvinge gets his way he wants to see them all acquitted on appeal in 2010. It seems these Swedish privateers have their prow pointing firmly towards Brussels. Ahoy!