Pirate Party, protesting Internet regulations, wins a seat at the European Union parliament
Twenty-one European Union countries went to the polls recently -- most on Sunday -- to elect representatives to the European Parliament. Lest Americans feel guilty about paying little attention to this event, I can tell you these elections arouse relatively little interest in Europe either -- in Sweden, where I am at the moment, the turnout was only about 43 percent, compared with 75 percent in national elections.
The big news of the Swedish election was the emergence of a new party, the Pirate Party, to protest any European regulation of the Internet in general, and music file sharing in particular. The party was wildly popular among young people, and emerged from the elections with just over 7 percent of the vote, which will give them one of Sweden´s 19 seats in the European Parliament. Some commentators this morning noted that the success of the Pirate Party, which appealed most strongly to young males, had hindered the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party, which also appeals to young males, from having done better in the elections, as anti-immigrant parties did in the United Kingdom, Holland, Austria, and Hungary, for example.
A story within the story about the Pirate Party was the announcement on Saturday, the day before the elections, that Benny Andersson, one of the two "B´s" in the wildly popular seventies-era pop band ABBA (which younger readers may know mostly via the movie Mamma Mia), had donated the spectacular sum of one million Swedish crowns (about $125,000) to a minor left-wing political party, the Feminist Initiative, for their election campaign. Quickly, speculation arose that Andersson had made the donation in hopes that Feminist Initiative would draw votes away from the Pirate Party, whose policies are a threat against ABBA´s music royalties.
The European Union is, more and more, the source of laws and regulations that member countries must follow. For this reason, many Swedes express surprise there is so little coverage of events in Brussels, capital of the European Union, in the US. However, the low turnout in the European elections suggests that many Swedes haven´t gotten this message either.
Posted by Steve Kelman on Jun 08, 2009 at 12:08 PM