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What Happened to Sweden's Pirate Party?
'But we worked harder than ever before', says Rick Falkvinge.
STOCKHOLM (Radsoft) — Rick Falkvinge's Pirate Party suffered a crushing defeat in the Swedish national election which ended on Sunday. Coming off a 7% victory a year ago in the EU elections, they failed to get more than one twentieth of that a year later.
'We had more media, more articles, more debates, more hand-out flyers than ever', says party leader Rick Falkvinge. 'Unfortunately, the wind was not in our sails this time as it was with the European elections.'
So what happened? Here are a few of the theories found on the web.
Note: these are not the theories or opinions of this website or the authors of this article.
√ Media tactics. The PP were previously given attention in the media to distract the citizenry from the Sweden Democrats. Plausibility here is low because the Sweden Democrats don't like the EU and there've been no local elections for four years.
√ Tactical voting. People saw how close the elections were going to be and wanted to make sure their side won. This is somewhat plausible but doesn't go far in explaining the dramatic drop in interest.
√ They're idiots. This was actually postulated on a forum. No comment.
√ Nobody cares anymore. Nobody care about the FRA law (Lex Orwell) or IPRED. People continue to download as they please and nothing happens to them. This is plausible.
√ They're only about file sharing. People think the PP platform is to make computer games and entertainment files free.
√ They're more important in the EU than they are locally. This almost makes sense: Sweden can't pass laws in contravention of EU legislation. Some people didn't think they were even going to campaign in the national elections.
√ Other parties take on the same platform today. Former TPB spokesperson Peter Sunde is a member of the Greens because they essentially support the same issues as the PP but so much more.
√ They're highly unprofessional. There's something to this argument.
√ Defending file-sharing loses votes. Some plausibility here. But it should also win votes - as in the EU elections.
√ People don't care about personal integrity anymore. This assumes they ever did.
√ Speculation that Rick Falkvinge is a pedofile. This is plausible and this is most likely because he pointed out that IP lobbies and censorhip fanatics always begin by talking about child pornography and then use this as a battering ram to force even more censorship. The buzz was that Falkvinge wanted to legalise child pornography and sex with minors. Falkvinge said himself that he'd get into trouble by discussing the issue and he was right.
√ They have only one issue on their platform. The Sweden Democrats published 99 issues as a contrasting example. The 'one issue' of course was a lot broader than most people were led to believe but most people didn't look any closer. A lot of people still think Saddam attacked the WTC and a lot of Swedes think the PP want only to legalise file sharing.
√ Waste of a vote. Correlates to the above. People have other interests too and they want to know how their vote will be used. The PP refused to discuss these matters. They refused to offer opinions on health care, employment, immigration, et al.
√ No coverage in the media. Last year's TPB trial made people understand there was a need for the PP but this time the incumbent government made sure nothing similar happened. They even pushed the appeals trial of The Pirate Bay beyond the election date. 'And they say it's not political' tweeted Peter Sunde. And the PP can't get any perks reserved for parties already in the parliament - they don't get in the televised debates, get very little air time, and there's not a lot they can do about it. That 4% threshold is really steep.
√ Other issues are more important. And judging from the election results, the immigration and muslim issues are at the top of the list. The PP people refuse to discuss anything else but they did mention they want lots of immigrants.
√ The spokespersons for the PP are extremely unsympathetic and people get 'paedophile vibes' from their appearance. This suggestion was again found on a forum.
√ Photos that should have never been taken at events that should never have taken place. There's a photo of Falkvinge circulating where he's drunk at a party with his shirt open and his beer belly hanging out.
√ Rick Falkvinge is right mangy. Compare his 'just got out of bed in these clothes' appearance with that of his debate opponents. The opponents' words can often border on the comical whilst Falkvinge's are always spot on. But will people listen?
√ Falkvinge thinks statutory rape is OK. Falkvinge agreed to an interview with Expressen where he said in so many words that sex with minors is OK. One might think statutory rape is often too expansively defined - that's your right - but you don't tell people that in a run-up to an election.
√ The party name. Too much association with The Pirate Bay, the idea they're about file sharing, and the historically negative connotations of 'piracy'.
√ Frozen out by the establishment. Digital rights weren't discussed at all in the campaign. This is very true.
√ They took a stance in favour of the current (rather unpopular) immigration policy. This despite having a policy of not commenting on 'other issues' - and in so doing they lost a lot of potential votes to the Sweden Democrats. This one is obvious.
√ Rick Falkvinge. 'A despicable human being who ruined their chances.' And that's a direct translation of something picked up at a forum.
√ A pack of WoW freaks. They're all WoW freaks and it's only WoW freaks who vote for them - people who otherwise don't care about politics. 'It's like having a Socks Party where the only issue is that socks should be cheaper.'
√ Lack of knowledge. It takes time to understand digital issues such as copyright and patents and most people don't realise this and don't have the time.
√ They're nerds and mostly men nerds at that.
√ They were eclipsed by the SD.
√ They concentrated on freaky topics.
√ People believe the lies of TPTB.
And so forth. Some of the ideas expose a lack of information, people being misinformed, not understanding the message of the PP, whilst others hit at the essence of the issue: that the PP did in fact not get their message across.
Falkvinge insists that the PP 'had more media, more articles, more debates, more hand-out flyers than ever' and that it's all about wind in the sails. And wind in the sails is important - even very important. As are the issues themselves.
Yet Rick Falkvinge's Pirate Party went from 7% in the EU elections to less than one twentieth of that a year later.