Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Iceland's radical Pirate Party top polls as election approaches

The radical Pirate Party which favors legalizing drugs and offering asylum to Edward Snowden looks set to win the most seats in the national election to be held in October.

In April this year, the prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stepped down after demonstrations against him. The Panama Papers revealed that his family had millions in offshore tax havens. He and his family were accused of hiding millions in the offshore accounts. Iceland's ruling coalition and the opposition agreed to hold early elections probably on October 29. Although Gunnlaugsson no longer owned any offshore investments his wife still did.
The Pirate Party's platform also includes direct democracy, greater government transparency, and a new national constitution. The Party has been at or near the top of the polls for over a year now. The party also want to persuade the company developing Pokemon Go in Iceland to turn polling stations into Pokestops!
Birgitta Jonsdottir, who leads the Pirate parliamentary group said to the Guardian:“It’s gradually dawning on us, what’s happening. It’s strange and very exciting. But we are well prepared now. This is about change driven not by fear but by courage and hope. We are popular, not populist.”The prime minister was replaced by the agriculture and fisheries minister Sigur Johanson and elections were promised before the end of the year.
The Pirate Party was found in 2012 by a group of hackers and activists who were part of an an international anti-copyright movement. In the 2013 elections, the party captured five percent of the vote and won three seats in the 63 member parliament.
Evan Onnudottir, a political scientist at the University of Iceland said:“Then, they were clearly a protest vote against the establishment. Three years later, they’ve distinguished themselves more clearly; it’s not just about protest. Even if they don’t have clear policies in many areas, people are genuinely drawn to their principles of transforming democracy and improving transparency.”
The Icelandic public has been outraged by the cronyism in Icelandic politics and the ability of the wealthy few to avoid responsibility for their actions. A poll in June by the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Iceland showed that the Pirate Party had the support of 29.9 percent of voters a gain of 1.6% since the last poll. The next largest party the Independence Party had just 22.7 percent a drop of 5.5 percent since May. The Independence Party is that of the former prime minister. While the lead appears to have narrowed recently, most analysts sill think the Pirate Party will take the most seats, between 18 and 20 in the parliament. The party says it will be willing to form a coalition with any party which subscribes to an agenda of "fundamental system change". Jonsdottir said: “I look at us and I think, we are equipped to do this. Actually, the fact we haven’t done it before and that we won’t have any old-school people telling us how, means we’ll do it more carefully. We will be doing things very differently.”
The party believes that new technologies can help promote political engagement, and make government more transparent and accountable to the people. The party also believes citizens should be able to propose legislation and have it decided by a national referendum. It also proposes increased taxes on the wealthy, Internet freedoms and reform of copyright laws. Onnudottir said that the success of the party depended on their performance but with their strong voter support they risked becoming part of the establishment.
Iceland is known for its social-democratic type government with an extensive social welfare system even though taxes are relatively low. It is famous also for its reaction to a financial crisis, which ended up with many prominent bankers being sent to jail and the country defaulting on some debts. Wikipedia sums up:Iceland has a market economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries.[9] It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens.[10] Iceland ranks high in economic, political and social stability and equality. In 2013, it was ranked as the 13th most-developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index.[6] Iceland runs almost completely on renewable energy. Affected by the ongoing worldwide financial crisis, the nation's entire banking system systemically failed in October 2008, leading to a severe depression, substantial political unrest, the Icesave dispute, and the institution of capital controls. Many bankers were jailed,[11] and the economy has made a significant recovery, in large part due to a surge in tourism.[12][13][14]

No comments: