The successful game plan of the European Pirate Parties

Rick Falkvinge explains the game plan of the Pirate Party and why they’re succeeding:

“After the Pirate Party’s political entry in the 2006 Swedish elections, we set out on a five-step plan to make sure that the offline civil liberties would carry over into the online world, against the wishes of the old guard. Each of these five steps would traditionally be impossible, and we’re done with the first two and are approaching the fourth:

1. Create Sweden’s largest youth wing of any party (we did), giving us credibility enough to succeed in…
2. The European Elections, where we need to beat 4% (note: we got 7.13%), which in turn is a stepping stone to…
3. Getting entry in the Swedish Parliament, which would start turning things around immediately. But in order to really change European policy, we need to…
4. Take about 5% in 3-4 more key parliaments in Europe, in key countries like Germany, France, or Poland, and use the combined leverage of those heavyweight parliaments to change the view on information policy across the European Union. Once that is done…
5. The world would have to follow, since no monopolistic repression happens if Europe doesn’t agree to it – since the EU is the world’s largest economy, larger than the US.

This was, and is, the five-step plan. But with the German Piratenpartei now polling in the double digits with multiple survey firms, the landscape has changed.

The Swedish Piratpartiet showed that success was possible in the European Elections of 2009, getting 25% of the under-30 vote and two Europarliament seats out of Sweden’s 20. That was the proof of concept. We failed to convert these votes into votes in the general elections a year later because of a very simple reason – that we didn’t have a full political platform. Answering “we have no opinion on that issue” for nine out of ten policy questions wasn’t good enough. People wouldn’t vote for parties that didn’t, not in a general election, and there was no way the Piratpartiet could expand its policies by the necessary magnitude between the 2009 and 2010 elections. This was a painful but necessary and educational experience in growth pains. (The Piratpartiet is now in full swing in expanding to a full policy platform ahead of the next elections in 2014.)

The German Piratenpartei, meanwhile, benefited hugely from the Swedish proof-of-concept in 2009 and climbed from 1% to 2% in the three months between the European and the German elections, with all the media spotlight from a new political movement making its way to front row center, and this result also rendered them substantial funding. Then, the Piratenpartei had two years to broaden their scope – from the fall of 2009 to the Berlin elections of 2011 – and pulled it off beautifully, being rewarded with parliamentary seats as a result.

So, let’s return to our five-step plan. We didn’t get into the Swedish parliament in 2010. But Sweden is not a country of any particular political significance. Exaggerating just slightly, it is a frozen country the size of a shoebox on top of the Arctic Circle. In this plan, the Swedish parliament in step three was never meant as anything more than an igniting spark.

We would still need 5% in multiple countries, if we got 5%. But if the German Piratenpartei pulls 10-15% in the national elections next year, where they indeed are in the polls, then this can be enough to fulfill step four in the plan.

Let’s back up a bit. With all the net regulation coming down the sewer pipe from the political ivory towers, it could be hard to see how we’re on the right track. The reason for that nasty stuff in the legislative sewer pipe is that the wrong guys are setting the agenda right now, and the trick is to change who sets that agenda. As long as the copyright industry keeps setting the legislative agenda, we will keep seeing more nasty sewer stuff. But the instant we set the legislative tone instead, the laws will take off in a completely different direction. We are very, very close to achieving that tipping point.

It is important to understand here that the eastern parts of Europe are not happy about the copyright monopoly construct at all, nor about its invasion of civil liberties. Poland has been exemplary at mounting opposition, and in Serbia, the Creative Commons concept is even seen as a huge step backwards as it imposes restrictions on how you can use culture and knowledge. So it boils down to a united western Europe putting pressure on eastern Europe to keep pushing a repressive agenda. Break the unity, break the agenda. The emperor really is naked.

If the German Piratenpartei manages to get 10-15% in the national elections, comes out on top in the coalition game, and becomes a supporting part of the next German administration in return for the administration absorbing its policies, then the game is over, and we won.”

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