by Cyrus Farivar
On Saturday, Iceland held national parliamentary elections and the newly-formed Pirate Party of Iceland won 5.1 percent of the vote. This earned the party three seats in parliament, making the new Píratar the most successful Pirate Party in any national legislative body around the globe.
Iceland’s unicameral parliament, known in Icelandic as the Alþing (“All-thing”), has just 63 members to represent the country’s 320,000 people.
By comparison, the Czech Republic has one Pirate Party parliamentarian, Germany has 45 state-level Pirate lawmakers (plus, recent party struggles), and Sweden has two representatives of its Pirate Party in the European Parliament. As is the case anywhere Pirates hold elective office, the group still represents a tiny minority in Iceland—most of the seats in the Alþing will go to the center-right Independence Party. In the United States, the Pirate Party has had very limited success and is extremely unlikely to get elected to either the House of Representatives or the Senate.
The three new Icelandic lawmakers include Jón Þór Ólafsson, a business administration student at the University of Iceland; Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, a computer programmer; and Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a well-known WikiLeaks volunteer and former member of parliament from 2009 to 2013.
Birgitta is also one of three activists involved in a WikiLeaks investigation currently underway in the United States. In November 2011, a district court judge found that prosecutors could compel Twitter to give up specific information on the three accounts, including IP addresses, direct messages, and other data. In January 2013, a federal appeals court in Virginia ruled (PDF) that Birgitta and the two others have no right to find out which other companies the government sought information from besides Twitter.
The trio, along with other members of Iceland’s digerati (including Smári McCarthy, who also is one of the organizers of the International Modern Media Initiative), founded the party just five months ago. The Pirate Party at large was founded in Sweden in 2006, focusing on a digital agenda including items such as IP law reform and Internet policies
“We are really very grateful for the [electorate’s] trust,” Birgitta told the state broadcaster, RÚV (Google Translate).