Wikileaks on the Pirate Party

Sweden’s Pirate party has been a key supporter of WikiLeaks throughout its recent travails. In August, the party, which is dedicated to the repeal of copyright laws and electronic privacy, agreed to host WikiLeaks on its servers. This month, the party’s Swiss branch registered WikiLeaks’ new URL after it lost its .org address.  But the ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

Sweden's Pirate party has been a key supporter of WikiLeaks throughout its recent travails. In August, the party, which is dedicated to the repeal of copyright laws and electronic privacy, agreed to host WikiLeaks on its servers. This month, the party's Swiss branch registered WikiLeaks' new URL after it lost its .org address. 

Sweden’s Pirate party has been a key supporter of WikiLeaks throughout its recent travails. In August, the party, which is dedicated to the repeal of copyright laws and electronic privacy, agreed to host WikiLeaks on its servers. This month, the party’s Swiss branch registered WikiLeaks’ new URL after it lost its .org address. 

But the Pirate Party is also the subject of some of the cables. One, from shortly after Sweden’s 2009 EU elections, comes with the attention-grabbing subject line, "Aargh! Swedish Pirates Set Sail for Brussels":

The big winner was the Pirate Party — which campaigned on reformation of copyright and patent law and opposition to a wiretapping law proposed by the Swedish security services. The Pirates secured a whopping 7.1% and one seat in Parliament. The party, founded in January 2006, attracted young voters angry over the guilty verdict in the Pirate Bay trial, the unpopular EU Ipred directive, and new national laws criminalizing file sharing and authorizing monitoring of emails. The party has not yet announced what EP party group it would like to belong to, and the current thinking espoused by Pirates is that the classic political right-left scale is outdated. Rather, the Pirates see themselves as an historic movement analogous to working-class and the green movements. The party is now looking to negotiate with both the liberal ALDE group and the Greens/EFA group.

4. A side effect of the Pirates’ success is that it most likely reduced the chances for the far-right nationalist Sweden Democrats to gain representation in the EP. The Pirates have some of the same voter base — young men with mistrust for politicians. Although the Sweden Democrats tripled their results to 3.3%, up from 1.1% in 2004, they remain below the threshold for representation in either the EP or Swedish Parliament. In any case, the Pirate’s landslide among younger voters caught the attention of the larger parties, our contacts tell us, who are now scrambling to come up with policies to woo the youth back to the mainstream.

Not sure I quite buy that the Pirates and the Sweden Democrats share a political base. "Young men with mistrust for politicians" is a pretty broad category. In another cable, Sweden’s deputy prime minister also cites the Pirate Party’s success as proof that young voters "do not trust us."

I’m hardly an expert on Swedish political movements, but I find it a little odd that the emphasis here seems to be on young Swedes’ distrust for the political establishment, rather than support for the Pirate Party’s stated goal of reforming copyright laws and legalizing filesharing. Sounds like a winning formula for getting out the youth vote to me.  

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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