Stunning Rise of Electoral Influence for Pirates de Catalunya

A very good campaign that attracted the attention of people, which can be seen in their elections results as well as the greatly increased followers in social media, gave Pirates de Catalunya a rise to their electoral influence. In the early elections for local parliament held on Sunday, November 25, they got more than double of their previous percentage, 0,21% in 2010 increased to 0,49% in this election.  This increase also meant that they nearly tripled the number of votes obtained, from 6.451 to 17.942.  This result was achieved with the help of more than 150 candidates in all 4 regions.

Some more statistics from the election campaign:

  • PPCAT grew the list of its members to 1000 (from 800 in September)
  • Collected 16.200€ for the electoral campaign
  • Increased their facebook fans, to 15.000 (from 8.000)
  • Increased their followers on twitter to 6.300  (from 4.500)
  • Had a big peak in visitors to their web-site.

On the road to the elections Pirates de Catalunya faced many obstacles. As they say, “due to contradictory information and errors” from the Catalan government, all the extra parliamentarian parties did not know they had to get 6.000 signatures until half of the period to collect them had passed. This meant that suddenly, a couple of weeks before the campaign started, they had a week and a half to gather the signatures needed to participate in the elections. Although the pirates succeeded with this and could finally run for elections, the government managed to disrupt the campaign preparations whilst the extra parliamentarian parties had to concentrate on collecting signatures. This slowed down the pirates and left them quite exhausted for the real campaigning but 9.000 signatures were collected in 9 days.

Pirates de Catalunya had planned a campaign with mottos such as “Right to decide for everything” and “Democracy needs a bailout”. Through this they brought forward the direct participation of citizens in decision-making processes, with mechanisms such as binding referenda, direct democracy, popular initiatives and demanding full transparency in public administration.

Their viral campaign video, which has been the most viewed video of all parties during the campaign period, was a remix based on the intro of “Dragon Ball Z”. The video reached more than 130.000 views in the first two days of its release. If this was only people from Catalunya this would constitute that 2% of the Catalan population watched this video in 48 hours. The official PPCAT campaign video, which was translated into several languages, also made an impression on the voters.

The posters had a comprehensive message, part of them inspired by the recent campaign in Germany . This shows how communication between pirate parties strengthen the pirate movement. The Catalan pirates keep a close watch on other Pirate Parties. As they mentioned to Pirate Times, they look at the successes seeking inspiration but also at other mistakes to avoid repeating them.

The main feature of Catalunya’s elections this year was the question about being ‘for or against’ the independence of Catalunya, which made it more like a referendum instead of a normal election, because of this the participation was the highest since 1980. Most people voted with this perspective of autonomy in mind and did not consider parties lacking a stance ‘for or against’ independence. The CiU, the governmental party, lost 12 seats ending up with 50 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament and can not form a government of self-reliance. Now it has to talk with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) which doubled its number of seats or the Socialist Party (PSC) which ranked 3rd. The full list of results.

THOUGHTS ON THE ELECTION FROM PIRATES DE CATALUNYA

Pirate Times talked with Kenneth Peiruza, official spokesperson and Muriel Rovira Esteva, international coordinator of Pirates de Catalunya about the elections, their campaign and their thoughts about issues, such as the autonomy of Catalunya and as well as the European crisis.

Pirate Times: What was it that played a main role in shaping these results?

Pirates de Catalunya: We knew from the very first moment that this was not going to be an easy election for us. Big parties and media presented the whole process as a rehearsal of a referendum about independence. Votes were expected to increase towards parties that clearly fight ‘for or against’ the independence of Catalunya from Spain.

Pirate Times: What is the position of PPCAT on the issue of autonomy for Catalunya?

Pirates de Catalunya: Our position on that matter is clear for us, but not easy to advertise: As promoters of direct democracy we would support a referendum that allows citizens to decide whether a Catalan state should be constituted or not, but unlike most other parties, we do not position ourselves ‘for or against’ the Catalan state. In fact, among our members and candidates are people that would vote in opposite directions if the referendum took place. We have been criticised for being unionists and secessionists, depending on who was making the judgement. Obviously, most people have chosen parties that do not have that internal diversity.

Pirate Times: How did Catalonians react to your electoral campaign?

Pirates de Catalunya: Before the results, we had the impression that this was our best campaign to date. We have reached a much greater portion of the population and enrolled more members than ever. Generally speaking, we received astoundingly positive feedback from online media like facebook and youtube. There, we outnumbered most parties. Also, this resulted in an unprecedented rise in donation figures. Our presence on the streets was very weak, as we felt we could not win with the huge amount of activists and advertising [funds] other parties had. Our results, taking into account the exceptional situation of these elections, are very good. We believe that those 18.000 votes are a core of convinced voters, and that we’ll reap the harvest of this excellent campaign in the following elections where we’ll be able to increase that number of voters more easily.

Pirate Times: Do you think that a European Pirate Party can make a difference in the fields of European Politics?

Pirates de Catalunya: We are confident that in the next European election the European Pirate Party will be able to achieve great results, given the creation of Pirate Parties in many European countries, that will be able to convey our message to millions of people, and the consolidation of the Pirates in Germany and Sweden. Besides, a European Pirate Party can effectively mobilize a large amount of citizens throughout Europe, something that any other party would have a lot of difficulty to do.

Pirate Times: What do Catalonians say about Spain’s state in crisis?

Pirates de Catalunya: The general feeling seems to be that politicians and their bad management and corruption led us to the crisis, which is only going to get worse in the upcoming years, and morover that they are now taking advantage of it as an excuse to remove social benefits and privatize public services. Some believe that with an independent Catalunya the burden would get easier to cope with, but others think that it would remain the same or become worse. There seems to be no definitive solution to the crisis in sight. Additionally, since there’s no transparency in either governments it’s very difficult to really know what happens with our taxes. Besides, Catalan politicians are no exception to corruption.

Pirate Times: What do Catalonian Pirates think about Europe?

Pirates de Catalunya: When we were preparing for the PPI General Assembly, and knowing that the European Pirates would be one of the important issues to be covered in that meeting, we set up a poll asking our members whether they wanted, Pirates de Catalunya, to have an active role in this project, participating and getting involved in the work groups. As you can see, the answer was unanimous, this is quite remarkable. If you take a look at other polls in our participation system, you’ll notice that it’s very rare that all voters agree on something in such a way. Catalan Pirates look very closely at what our European pirate brothers. We look at their successes seeking inspiration but also at their mistakes to avoid repeating them. In Catalan society in general (and also the Spanish one), only now are a few voices starting to raise questioning the convenience of being part of the EU, but the population in Catalonia has been traditionally quite pro European. This is even reflected crystal clear in the claim of the massive independence demonstration on the 11th of September, which was “Catalonia, a new European state”.

In the municipal elections of 2011, Pirates de Catalunya got 2 Councillors in Municipalities of Santa Coloma de Gramanet, with 6.65% and San Fructuoso de Bages, with 11.66%.

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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