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Iceland's Pirate Party is Gaining Influence as Populist Movement Rises

Image: Iceland's Pirate Party is Gaining Influence as Populist Movement Rises

Leader of the Pirate Party of Iceland Birgitta Jonsdottir poses for a picture at the party's office in the Icelandic Parliament in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 25, 2016. (Gwladys Fouche/Reuters/File Photo)

By    |   Monday, 24 Oct 2016 01:30 PM

Iceland's Pirate Party is gaining influence in the country, and many people are keeping an eye on how the new party, buoyed by the populist movement, will fair during the general elections on Saturday.

The Iceland Monitor reported that the Pirate Party had 22.6 percent support in the latest poll taken from Oct. 14-19, a 1 1/2-point lead over the center-right Independence Party, which is currently in power, The Iceland Mnitor reported. If the results hold, it would give each party 15 seats in Iceland's 63-seat national parliament.

The Pirate Party has only been around since 2013, and won three seats in parliament with 5.1 percent of the vote, the Monitor said.

"People want real changes and they understand that we have to change the systems, we have to modernize how we make laws," party founder Birgitta Jónsdóttir, 49, a web programmer and former WikiLeaks activist, told The Washington Post, which described the party as being made up of "anarchists, hackers, libertarians, and Web geeks,"

The Post reported that the populist movement that Pirate Party is riding on hit a new high this past spring when the leaked Panama Papers revealed an offshore company owned by the prime minister's wife that staked a claim to Iceland's collapsed banks.

Protesters took to the streets because of the perceived conflict of interest, leading to Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson leaving his prime minister's post, leading to new elections, The New York Times reported.

The Times wrote that leaked documents from the once little-known boutique law firm in Panama this spring revealed that Gunnlaugsson and his wealthy wife had set up the company in the British Virgin Islands, leading to the conflict of interest charges.

"The distrust that had long been germinating has now exploded," Ragnheithur Kristjánsdóttir, a political history professor at the University of Iceland, told the Post. "The Pirates are riding on that wave. We've had new parties before, and then they’ve faded. What's surprising is that they're maintaining their momentum."

Pirate Party members told the Post that they are less interested in ideology and more interested in citizens gaining greater power over the political systems.

"We are not here to gain power," Pirate Party parliament member Ásta Guthrún Helgadóttir, 26, told the Post. "We are here to distribute power."

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Iceland's Pirate Party is gaining influence in the country, and many people are keeping an eye on how the new party, buoyed by the populist movement, will fair during the general elections on Saturday.
iceland, pirate, party, populist, movement
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2016-30-24
Monday, 24 Oct 2016 01:30 PM
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