Interview with the Leader of Pirate Party Finland
On June 11th Pirate Party Finland (PPFI) elected a new board. After a tie between the incumbent leader (Tapani Karvinen) and the new challenger (Jonna Purojärvi) another vote was made. This time the new challenger managed to take the position to lead the party forward. Pirate Times reached out to Jonna Purojärvi with some questions.
Pirate Times: Tell us a bit about yourself – your age, your profession, your history in PPFI and other facts you want to share. Who is Jonna Purojärvi?
Jonna: I’m soon to be 28 years old and I’ve actually been unemployed most of my adult life. I’ve been involved with PPFI a little over three years, starting as a candidate for the European parliament. In 2014, I was named spokesperson for PPFI and with that I also held the responsibility for social media during the 2015 parliamentary election. In the summer of 2015, I was elected to be the chairperson for Finnish Young Pirates. This post will end this month. So, for a little over a month I held the chairs for both national Pirate-organizations that we have in Finland.
Pirate Times: Were you involved in other political or non-governmental organizations, groups or teams before joining the PPFI? How did you find out about PPFI and what made you join the party?
Jonna: No, I was pretty much down and out from everything before joining the PPFI. The only link I really had to the outside world was this blog that I started to write in late 2011. I was vexed about so many things and just needed to vent, basically. There were many political parties and members of other parties that asked me to join them from all across the political spectrum, but I turned them all down. I was too disappointed with the policies they’ve been implementing and most of all couldn’t stand the rhetoric they used. Then on one fateful night, a pirate who had befriended me on Facebook thanks to that blog, asked me if I had considered running for PPFI for the EU-elections. At first I turned this offer down – Early in the morning after basically no sleep at all, I made the decision to go for it. I’m glad I did.
Pirate Times: Do you have any specific plans or changes to implement as leader of PPFI?
Jonna: We need to change the atmosphere and practice what we preach. I don’t want our members to be for the party, it needs to go the other way around. In specific, the board needs to work for it’s members and be servants to its members. Before being elected as the chair of the party, I already begun to open more possibilities for people to participate. I believe that this was one of the reasons I was elected to this position. The goal is to free people as much as possible for them to be able to participate and do what they feel beneficial both for themselves and for the party.
Pirate Times: Why does the Finland need the Pirate Party? What are some of the main changes the party wishes to implement?
Jonna: There needs to be a party that not only gives real hope, but gives the means to actually make things happen. I’ve seen way too many times how people have basically been devoured by the other parties and they just lost all that made them promising as politicians. As a party what we want in principle is to open more possibilities for people to live their lives as they please, as long as they don’t harm others when doing so. In practice that means getting rid of regulations that deny people the chance to use their judgement, basic income to free people’s time from the endless bureaucracy, and we want to make it more possible to familiarize oneself with culture and information that for low-income people is made practically illegal, thanks to the copyright laws and paywalls.
Pirate Times: The next municipal elections in Finland will take place on April 9, 2017. What is the plan for PPFI until then?
Jonna: We will have a weekend, where we have workshops for the members of the party. The weekend includes different ways of learning together and sharing ideas with each other. This year the focus will be on the upcoming municipal elections. PPFI started this tradition last year, and I was the main organizer in the first one. It was one of the things that I heard people have wanted for years, and I’m glad that this tradition has finally found its place in the party.
Besides that, mostly we are fixing all sorts of little things that have needed fixing for a long time. Our website is old and messy, our public image needs to widen to match what PPFI is about and we need to get our means of communication in order, both inside the organization and with our public communication. We’ve been through many elections and found a lot of little things that need to work better in our organization, especially during the elections. We have to use that information and fix things since we now have some time to concentrate on these things. When the elections are near, all the time and energy goes to mandatory things, and there’s no time to make organizational changes.
Pirate Times: In the latest national elections PPFI achieved 0.8% with about 25.000 votes. What do you think of your possibilities in the regional elections next year?
Jonna: I think we have a great possibility to gain seats in the elections in the spring 2017 in multiple cities. Basically all we need to do is make the message loud and clear. The worst thing about being extra-parliamentary party is that too many people believe that they will vote in vain, or feel that their votes are lost if given to us. These are the elections where every vote for a Pirate will matter, and these elections really determine our future – If and when we succeed, the next parliamentary elections will lift PPFI in the parliament.
Pirate Times: During the campaigning for the national elections PPFI managed to collect more than 11.000 Euro in Bitcoin collections. Do you continue to receive a lot of Bitcoins? Did you ever end up in court for collecting too many anonymous donations?
Jonna: We do get some bigger bitcoin contributions every now and then, but it’s definitely more rare to receive any kind of bigger donations when there are no elections going on. Not long ago we received 5BTC from a kind anonymous person, and with that we are more able to run our organization steadily.
We have never ended up in court, but that could be a different story if we manage to gain a seat in the parliament with a campaign funded with Bitcoins. Finnish law doesn’t really know how to deal with Bitcoins, so as long as it is so, we’ll just keep running with this.
Pirate Times: Peter Sunde, despite not being active with The Pirate Bay for more than a decade, recently received a demand (from the Helsinki District Court) to pay 350,000 euros for music shared illegally through the Pirate Bay by its users. Now he plans to sue for defamation. Will PPFI get involved in this somehow?
Jonna: That remains to be seen. I’ve contacted Sunde concerning this situation and asked him to comment about this for us. We made an article, but for now that’s all we’ve done. I’d like for PPFI to get more involved, since no other party in Finland will say anything about this. The whole thing is just absolutely ludicrous and it really makes one wonder about the condition of due process that we have.
Pirate Times: What is your opinion on the state of civil rights in Finland?
Jonna: To me it seems like they’ve been regulated to non-existence. Of course we have the basis of civil rights in order, the bare minimum that makes it possible to say that there’s democracy here. Yes, we get to vote and yes we have freedom of speech and press. But for anyone who tries something new, there always seems to be a regulation that says nope, you just can not do that. We even have some difficulties respecting human rights here, with mandatory sterilization for transgendered people and incarcerating young men who refuse military service or the civil service. Even the civil service is said to be just a substitute for those who don’t want to serve armed service, but in many cases it is just a form of punishment. In practice, we are incarcerating men for their opinion and severely damaging transgendered people both physically and mentally.
Pirate Times: Do you have any collaborations with other Pirate Parties?
Jonna: Some, but there should be more. During this year we’ve been actively in contact with Estonian Pirate Party, trying to offer them the same help getting on their feet as we got from Swedish Pirate Party when PPFI was founded. Young Pirates of Finland have been more active in taking part of the international movement, since the international youth organizations just work so much better.
Pirate Times: Where do you think PPFI will be in 5 years?
Jonna: In the 2020’s PPFI will be in the parliament. With the financing that we get from the seat we will be able to create more possibilities for our members and be able to produce more material about our policies and finally have the luxury of paying people for the work they do. For now, we make the best of what we’ve got with the voluntary work that people are willing to give to us. With more financing, the organization will face some changes, but at that point we need to make sure we won’t trash any good parts we have just because we could buy our way forward.
Pirate Times wishes to thank Jonna Purojärvi for the interview and wishes her success with the leadership.
Featured image: CC-BY-SA 2.0, Hannu Mäkäräinen.