Euroscepticism Won The Elections In Croatia

Euroscepticism Won The Elections In Croatia

After Interviewing Maša Utković, PPHR’s (Pirate Party of Croatia) leader and head of “List 22” – the euroballot of the party, you can easily realize that the winner in Croatia’s recent, first ever euroelections was euroscepticism. The clear indifference and lack of participation shown by voters, only 20,84% turnout, confirmed citizens low interest for the European Union.

Regarding PPHR, it garnered 1.13%, in its first electoral battle and ranked in 12th position with 8,345 votes. The best is yet to come for Pirates of Croatia who gain much needed experience, being assisted by fellow pirates from neighbouring countries. They will need it in next month’s local elections which will be held on 19 May and the second round on 2 June.

Although they had 20 days for their campaign, as Maša told the Pirate Times, Croatians welcomed PPHR very well, their followers in facebook increased rapidly, media sympathized pirates and the basis has been laid for a great future.

The interview with Maša, was held a day before the elections.

Pirate Times: How do Croatian citizens react to Piratska Stranka?
Maša Utković: Better than I expected, I must admit. They are less and less horrified by our name and more interested in our program. They are showing great interest in what we do, asking a lot of questions and that is always a good thing.

Maša Utković - Chairwoman of Piratska Stranka Hrvatske

Maša Utković – Chairwoman of Piratska Stranka Hrvatske

PT: How did they respond to your campaign?
MU: The response was better than any of us could expect. The ones that knew that we exist in our political scene were thrilled when they found out that they will finally be able to give their vote to someone who represents the real change. The best feedback I received from people to whom we were absolute enigma. I expected that I will have to spend some time just explaining our name and the reason we call ourselves “pirates” but once that question was bypassed, the rest was rather easy.

PT: In which ways did you promote your candidacy?
MU: After all, we are pirates so we did a lot of promotion on line. In just two weeks, our f/b page collected more than 1000 new likes! We wrote a few paragraphs about all candidates on our web site and used one news portal to publish our portraits. Candidates were writing blog posts during the campaign and many of those were shared numerous times. Also, our European colleagues helped us. Swedish pirates enabled me to shoot a promo video in Brusselles, Belgium pirates initiated a cute campaign and as a result, we gain few videos with European pirates calling Croatian public to vote for us! For two weeks, we campaigned on the street, among citizens; handing them flyers, talking to them and explaining them why they should vote for pirates. We received enormous help from our fellow pirates from Belgium, Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and Slovenia. We made a 30 second long jingle and launched it on line and on few radio stations with national coverage. We rounded up our campaign with a press conference which was covered by our national tv. Considering that our President decided to hold the elections in April instead of May and by doing that, gave us only 20 days to prepare and perform our campaign, I think that we did an amazing job! It was a great practice because we will participate in the local elections next month on May 19th, the EU elections next year and parliamentary elections in 2015.

PT: How did you feel being on top of the list of candidates?
MU: The feeling was great, for sure! I really worked hard for the party, gave all my free time to the movement and being my party’s top candidate is a kind of recognition. It means that my work and devotion are acknowledged and rewarded by my colleagues. There is one more aspect, though. I hope that the fact that I’m a female top candidate will encourage more girls to join us and get involved in politics!

PT: How the selection of candidates was made?
MU: All the membership was invited to submit their nominations. In the end, we had 14 candidates and again, all the membership was invited to vote for 12 candidates who will finally carry the list of the Pirate Party. After we finalized the list, the only thing that left was to choose a top candidate among the 12 of us. We agreed that the top candidate should be somebody who is recognisable in the public. Since my colleague Ivan Voras and I were the candidates with most public appearances, the membership was called for the last voting and they decided that my name will be on the top of our list.

PT: What was the “secret” for PPHR having a percentage of 6,4% in the polls?
MU: I think that we owe most of our gratitude to some media that are extremely sympathetic toward us. They are covering our work for the past 12 months so we are recognized in the on and off- line community. In the last few weeks, besides the articles and the reports regarding two largest political parties in Croatia, voters could read only about us pirates which is amazing considering that there were 28 lists running for EU elections. That percentage is certainly deserved, we worked for it since we officially registered as a political party in Croatia but at the same time, we are fortunate that we still have some media that are not corrupted and not afraid to write about us, to portrait us as something new, interesting and worth of the attention.

PT: Is voting system with open list good or bad for PPHR?
MU: My personal opinion is that the system with open list is good because it gives an equal chance and opportunities to every candidate. Also, someone may like the Pirate Party but in the same time, dislike me as their top candidate. Why not give that someone the opportunity to vote for one of my colleagues? After all, it is still a vote for pirates!

PT: What is the opinion of Croatian Pirates for the European Union?
MU: Pirate movement is international, it doesn’t recognize any borders. Croatian Pirate Party is pro-European party and only cparty that never had any oscillations regarding that question. Every other party on our political scene was against European Union, extremely euro-sceptic or euro-sceptic when that was desirable in order to gain public sympathy.

PT: Your background in politics?
MU: Like most of the pirates, at least the ones I know, I don’t have any background in politics. I can explain that rather easy. I never considered myself as an apolitical person and the reason is simple. In my opinion, people can just state that they are apolitical but in reality, they can’t be because politics has a huge impact on everday’s life of every single citizen. Prior to my involvement in Pirate party I just wasn’t active in politics. There were no parties with programs that struck me as interesting, innovative and/or progressive hence, I figured that my involvement would be a waste of time and energy.

PT: What was it that attracted you to Pirate Party?
MU: The whole pirate movement is based on new, innovative and progressive ideas. I knew that once we start to write our program, we’ll be laying the groundwork for the politics of the next century.

PT: How was your meeting with MEP Amelia Amersdotter in Brussels?
MU: The meeting was great. It certainly was a lifelong experience. I think Amelia should hold courses for politicians, “how to be an MEP and still retain humanity”. I’m not saying that as a joke. What she accomplished is amazing. She was young when inaugurated and still is but at the same time, she’s extremely professional, standing behind her principles and ideals. A living example, that politics doesn’t necessarily corrupt people.

Featured Images by Piratska Stranka Hrvatske & Maša Utković – CC-BY-SA

Stathis Leivaditis

About Stathis Leivaditis

The English “pirate” is derived from the Greek word “πειρατής” (peiratēs) and this in turn from the verb “πειράομαι” (peiráomai), “I attempt”, which is a derivative of the noun “πείρα” (peîra), “experience”. Coming from the depths of the centuries, the word “pirate” took on another dimension in our days. The ruling classes saw pirates as rebels and hated them. Rebels without a state, they were not submissive to any law, except from the laws they instituted themselves, improvising together. This is the feeling of a Pirate: when something doesn’t work, you have to attempt to bring a new concept. Sometimes it goes beyond a certain point and perhaps exceeds certain limits, because it is an expression of challenge; the challenge to change the system. I’m a member of the Board (and former chairman) of Pirate Party of Greece, also a member of press team of PPGR, former journalist, now a free lancer. I'm in the team of Pirate Times from the start, I joined voluntarily and consciously because I am interested to meet pirates from around the world, to exchange views and spread the pirate spirit.

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