Birgitta Jonsdottir and her Speech at the Inter-Parliamentary Union

Birgitta Jonsdottir and her Speech at the Inter-Parliamentary Union

Birgitta Jónsdóttir wrote a speech for the debate at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The Union “brings together parliamentarians to study international problems and make recommendations for action”. The IPU was formerly known as the Inter-Parliamentary Conference and has held 134 statutory assemblies and conferences between nations since 1889. The following speech was held by Birgitta at the latest assembly which took place in Lusaka, Zambia on the 19 -23th March 2016.


Dear Colleges,

I have co-created two parties from nothing in the last seven years, with some really amazing diverse people, many very young. My new party, the Pirate Party has over 50% of people below 25 who would vote for us according to the opinion polls for a full year. It means we are doing something to inspire young people to be part of new systems that we are building together. Perhaps because we are very accessible online, we make policy about stuff that are meaningful to young people and invite them to create and/or influence our policy.

It’s important for young people to go into the legislative assembly unrestrained by traditions, like legal hackers, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses in order to find ways to improve the system, because we live at remarkable, transformative times. We have the library of Alexandria at our fingertips; all the recorded knowledge of the world is being digitized and made available through the Internet.

We have never been as connected as we are today, as enabled to share real-time stories of success and failure across borders of any kind. Therefore, our learning curve is steeper than ever before.

We are sharing, downloading, remixing and co-creating every day.

We made the systems, the laws, the rules, surely we can undo them.

There are some amazing direct democracy experiments being implemented with success all over the world. New types of citizen engagement platforms are being created and used to form policy and to facilitate direct democracy, such as Liquid Feedback, D-Cent, Your Priorities, DemocracyOS and WeGov.

Technology enabling direct access to power has now become simple enough that citizens can start using it to form opinion and enforce political change in a genuine grassroots, bottom-up way.

The ideologies of the old school of politics, media, monetary systems, education, corporations, and all known structures are in a state of transformation. They are crumbling. Now is the time for fundamental change on all fronts, young people have to be at the heart of the creation of the new architecture of future systems. To engage young people to be part of shaping our world, we have to allow them to take real responsibilities within all known structures and innovate new systems. It is not enough just to get more young people inside the current systems. We have to also inspire young people to be engaged. Today politics and political parties have very little trust, at least in Iceland. Parliaments are weak and that is very dangerous, it is urgent to allow new methods to direct engagement with all of us who share a society, young people and creative people are those that have to lead the way and those that have been part of the foundation of our systems to step back.


Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a poet-itian currently serving as a member of parliament in Icelandic parliament for Pirate Party Iceland. She was first elected to the Icelandic parliament in April 2009 on behalf of a political movement she helped create aiming for democratic reform via direct democracy, transparency and accountability. She co-created the Pirate Party in Iceland in 2012. Last year Birgitta sponsored a motion to the IPU assembly. You can also read more about her dream for a model Iceland or read/watch her TEDx talk “We, the People, are the System

Featured image: Modified from CC-BY, Aktron / Wikimedia Commons