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Pirate Party Wins EU Parliament Seat

Landmark victory for file-sharing advocates

Pirate Party Wins EU Parliament Seat

STOCKHOLM -- The upstart Pirate Party has won a Swedish seat in the European Parliament.

Sunday evening, Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt congratulated the young political body, which only formed three years ago.

The Pirate Party won a seat with 7.1 percent of the vote and brought in more votes from those under 30 than any other party in European elections on Saturday, reports The Local.

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What began in 2006 as a joke to the mainstream press and business is no longer funny, but a small, but vocal political force.

"Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it," Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told TorrentFreak

"This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance.”

The election turnout was 43 percent, meaning about 200,000 Swedes voted for the Pirate Party. This is a marked contrast to 2006, when it received just shy of 35,000 votes.

The Pirate Party has seen an increase in members and general support since the guilty verdict in the trial of BitTorrent tracking website The Pirate Bay and the enacting of stricter copyright laws via Sweden's IPRED bill.

The party hopes to spread throughout Europe and also has established itself in the U.S. with a platform that calls for issues similar to that champion by independent parties ranging from libertarians to socialists, depending on the topic.

In Europe, the Pirate Party hopes seeks to stop what it calls abuses of power and copyright from entertainment companies and is also pushing to legalize file-sharing for personal use.

The Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt has already reacted to the win, stating his own Moderate Party -- most popular with older voters above 60 -- will be offering re-tooled positions on Internet integrity and copyright when Sweden's national elections are held in September 2010. This shift will include a talk with Moderate Youth leader Niklas Wykman, who's attacked government computer surveillance proposals and anti-file sharing legislation.

Meanwhile, the Pirate Party plans to capitalize on its momentum.

"Together we have today reshaped the political map in Europe," party leader Falkvinge said at a dinner and victory celebration. "Right now, Europe is watching what is happening here and politicians everywhere are scrambling to understand our issues. They now know that the party that has information-political perspectives that can win many votes.”

True to its namesake, the party celebrated with pints of rum and loads of pirate chants, too

The seat in the EU parliament will likely be taken by the party's vice chairman, Christian Engström, as the politics differ in Sweden and the party ran for a seat, rather than a specific candidate by name.

According to a survey, 12 percent of men and 4 percent of women voted for the Pirate Party, The Local said.

Sweden's two largest parties, the Moderates and Social Democrats, now find alternatives, such as the Pirate Party and also the Green Party -- which received nearly 11 percent of the Swedish vote -- as a legitimate challenge to the status quo.

 






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Edward Duncan

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