Interview with a German Pirate Living in Iceland
Interview with an overseas Pirate
The Icelandic Pirate Party has reached over 30% in the current polls. We spoke to Simon, a Pirate who lives and studies in Iceland, to throw some light on the background to the Icelandic success-story.
Editor: Hello Simon, you are the ‘overseas Pirate’ who is currently studying in Iceland.
Simon: Góðan daginn. Yes, that’s right. I lived for ten years in the Netherlands until I moved 18 months ago to Iceland to do my PhD in aquaponics (Engineering Science ). I have therefore been observing the Pirates in Germany at a certain distance from the outside. The mentality here in Iceland is comparable to that of the other Scandinavian countries, with the difference that people here are much more interested in education and politics. In political panel discussions in the student bar, the place is jammed full, and there are regular demonstrations in front of the Parliament building — unthinkable in Germany. In addition, 60% of young Icelanders have a university degree and that sadly ramps up the pressure on the level of education.
Editor: We rub our eyes when we see the poll results of the Icelandic Pirates. What is then the political situation in Iceland.
As mentioned earlier, people here are a lot more politically committed and generally have a higher level of education. In addition, there are no journalistic disasters like the tabloids Die BILD or Der Spiegel. People think for themselves and hold the parties to the promises they made. And the discontent with the current government is benefiting the “Píratar” here. A lot of things have changed since the 2008-2011 financial crisis (called just ‘The Crisis’), but transparency is still lacking on the island — and this is precisely what the Pirate Party stands for. Unlike in Germany, the party is holding to its fundamental values and not drifting off in all possible directions.
Editor: And in this situation the Pirates are now polling at 30.1%. What do you think caused this? Have the Icelanders read the Pirate’s program?
Simon: Personally, I have not carried out any polls myself and I am not politically active here. However, you can see many professors and students with Pirate stickers on their laptops, which signals that the ruling cliques can currently only be broken up by the Pirates. I think this is less about the program and more about the overall political situation. In addition, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Jón Thor Ólafsson, and Birgitta Jónsdóttir – the three sitting Pirate MPs in the Althingi (parliament) – are doing rock-solid political work and are not discrediting the party publicly nor using it as a career springboard.
Editor: That’s good news. ‘Mellowing’ is something that the German Pirates too have written on their banners — and that they have also been doing in the regional parliamentary groups, as far as possible. Can you give us a few examples of what Helgi, Jón Thor and Birgitta have done to build this credibility in Iceland?
Simon: They especially want to improve the police, abolish the blasphemy law and have the Internet left uncensored. They also stand out vehemently against lobbying and cronyism, and for economic and political transparency. And they want direct democracy.
Editor: And wasn’t there something with EU membership? I heard the government has put the membership application on ice, which understandably has caused anger. Even the word ‘elections’ has been mentioned somewhere? Where does Píratar stand on this? Could there really be elections in Iceland soon?
Simon: It’s not quite like that — most people I know are against joining because it would mean ceding a great deal of sovereignty to Brussels. The Icelandic Pirate Party campaigns for direct democracy and, together with a referendum on accession, stands for the following basic political program:
1. Iceland must never be a member of the European Union, unless the membership is confirmed by a referendum that is presented to the population in an impartial manner.
2. Were Iceland to join the European Union, there should be a single constituency for the elections to the European Parliament.
3. Were Iceland to join the European Union, Icelandic should be one of the EU official languages.
4. If negotiations on the accession of Iceland to the European Union falter or its membership is rejected, the Agreement on the European Free Trade Area must be halted in order to secure Iceland’s self-determination. It is not acceptable that Iceland must accept this economic agreement when it had no representatives or observers at its negotiation
5. One of the Icelandic Pirates’ conditions for accession to the European Union is Iceland’s exemption from the Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC) and the Regulation on a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims (1869/2005/EC), which disregards fundamental human rights.
The interview was carried out by @moonopool.
The original interview in German can be found on the German Pirate web site.
Featured image: CC BY-NC_SA Pirate Times from work by Solja Virkkunen PPIS and PPDE