Pirates propose new radical government coalition for Iceland


Change of government expected as Iceland goes to the polls 

EXPECTATIONS ARE HIGH in Reykjavik for a dramatic shift in Iceland’s political landscape ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections. 

The north Atlantic island has been the epicentre of some of the western world’s biggest political shocks in recent years – with the tumult of the banking crisis and recent Panama Papers revelations destabilising its old political establishment. 

As the the country’s voters prepare for fresh elections, polls suggest the new ‘digital democrats’, the Pirate Party, could steal a march on the older parties. 

The Pirates, who propose democratic reforms to change the constitution and boost public participation, have proposed a radical coalition alongside the Left-Green Movement, which has also received a surge in opinion polls. 

The governing Independence Party, implicated in both the banking and Panama Papers scandals, faces being turfed from office, while the old social democratic party has suffered a collapse in opinion poll support. 

Polls have fluctuated between the Pirates (Purple), Independence Party (Blue) and the Left-Greens (Green)  

Alasdair Crow, a migrant Scot in Reykjavik working in language education, has been following political developments closely ahead of the election. 

“I think the Independence Party will do much better on the day than we think as they are running a really dirty campaign against everyone who isn't them, but winning isn't enough to form government,” he explained to CommonSpace. 

“They would need the support of someone, but I don't see Progressive Party having enough seats to join a coalition again.

“I think the Pirate Party will come second and the Left Greens 3rd, as the Socialist Labour Party is all but dead. However, if the Pirates, Left Greens, Socialists and Bright Future have enough seats, I can see them forming a grand coalition.”

The rise of the Pirates, who at one stage extended a large poll lead despite being only four years old, reflects Iceland’s turn against old, established parties. 

Led by ‘poet politician’ Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the party was formed through a wave of online activism. The party has called for greater support for whistleblowers, and supports Icelandic citizenship for Edward Snowden. 

5 things you should know about the Icelandic Pirate party

The Pirate Party movement originated in Sweden, following discontent over the aggressive enforcement of intellectual property law and the shutting down of online download websites.

Pirate parties have had limited success across Europe – but Iceland has been the exception. 

Crow explained: “The Independence Party is basically the Icelandic version of the UK Conservative Party. They believe in lower taxes for the rich, privatisation and austerity as the answer to all.

“The Pirate Party is actually very similar to the SNP, and other EU Pirate Party groups are in the same EU Parliament grouping as the SNP. They stand for representative direct democracy, higher taxes on the rich, a new constitution and say they are neither left nor right. ‘New kind of politics’ is their mantra.

Icelandic opposition releases declaration to form anti-government alliance

“The Leftist Greens are similar to the Scottish Greens in that they are pretty far left, but believe even more strongly in independence and are anti-EU. They are also extremely environmentally conscious, more so than their UK counterparts. They once ran the country in a coalition.”

Scottish politicians have launched an unprecedented charm offensive towards Iceland in recent months with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting the country’s president, prime minister, and foreign secretary. 

SNP MPs Alex Salmond, Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, and John Nicholson have all met with senior Icelandic officials in the last few months.

Iceland is a member of Efta (European Free Trade Association), which has free movement and membership of the European single market. An Efta style relationship for Scotland with the rest of Europe has been raised as one option for the country following the Brexit referendum.

Picture courtesy of Pirátka Birgitta Jónsdóttir

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