Swedish Young Pirates Confer on Mental Health and Labour Politics

Swedish Young Pirates Confer on Mental Health and Labour Politics

In mid-November 2012, around fifty Young Pirates came to the Swedish town of Norrköping for a two-day political conference with focus on mental health and labour market politics.

Labour politics discussion, Young Pirates president Gustav Nipe speaking. CC BY-NC-SA Jonathan Rieder Lundkvist.

The youth organization Young Pirates Sweden annually arranges a political conference for its members, and in the past two years it has been held in the Louis de Geer conference hall in Norrköping in East Sweden. This year’s conference saw two themes: mental health, and labour market politics. In comparison to last year, the 2012 conference focused much more on political debate, whereas the 2011 conference had a larger focus on speakers.

The purpose of the conference was to stimulate discussion and debate among the members, and to encourage and motivate members to develop politics in these areas. The youth organisation pays for travel, living and food expenses for two members of each local organisation. Apart from the purely political discussions, the conference was also a great way to meet other pirates and to socialise. In the wee hours of both Saturday and Sunday mornings, many pirates were still up, playing board games and talking to people they often, otherwise only meet online, or who they’ve never met before.

Social Democrat Johan Andersson talks about their labour politics. CC BY-NC-SA Jonathan Rieder Lundkvist.

Apart from the discussions, the conference also saw four different speakers. The keynote on Saturday was delivered by Gustav Nipe, president of Young Pirates Sweden, who introduced the topics for discussion. Johan Andersson, Member of the Swedish Parliament for the Social Democrats, talked about labour politics, and encouraged the pirates to engage in politics – though, as he said half-joking, he switch his party. After his talk he was confronted by a multitude of questions from the audience, both critical of his party’s politics, and curious about his experiences and knowledge.

As the Social Democrats are the originators of a large deal of the surveillance politics that the Pirate Party currently fights in Sweden, one would have thought that the landscape would be very hostile and tense. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“I was very nicely received”, Andersson said when Pirate Times spoke to him after the talk, “and you all had both concrete and constructive questions.” When asked what he thought of the party’s broadening political platform, he said that further involvement in these questions is indeed needed, even if he would prefer the conference attendees to come to his party instead.

When asked why he chose to come give his talk, he summarised a view point lacking in many politicians: “I agreed to come because I find it important, in all circumstances, to talk about our labour politics and about how to solve the problems of unemployment. The political engagement of citizens is never to be underestimated, even though I do hope that you change parties in the future.”

MEP Christian Engström of the Pirate Party talks to the Young Pirates. CC BY-NC-SA Jonathan Rieder Lundkvist.

The Social Democrats’ opposing party, the Moderate Party, also had a speaker invited to the conference, but he chose to decline once he learned which organisation was holding the event.

Sunday saw talks by Christian Engström, one of the Pirate Party’s Member of European Parliament, and Anna Troberg, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party.

“This conference is very important for the Pirate Party”, said Troberg to Pirate Times. “It means that the youth engaged in Young Pirates get to come together to create social ties, and discuss politics and future political decisions. One can also see that the proposals that are voted through on member meetings are those previously discussed and worked through. When Young Pirates have meetings like these, where they have the time to form good ideas, the results are much more likely to be voted through in the future.”

Featured image is CC BY-NC-SA Jonathan Rieder Lundkvist. More pictures from the conference are available at his site.

The full audio interview with Johan Andersson (in Swedish) is available on Youtube. The full interview with Anna Troberg will soon be available as its own article.