Iceland's Pirate Party are on the cusp of power, but who are they?

Iceland's Pirate Party are on the cusp of power, but who are they?
Iceland's new politics — Iceland’s post-crisis political landscape has become a breeding ground for new voices. One of the loudest belongs to the pirates calling for radical free speech. With Iceland's Prime Minster resigning, the Pirate Party look set to sweep to power, we meet one of the people behind their success.

We have good parties here. We maraud and drink lots of rum!” laughs Arnaldar Sigurdarson, twenty-seven. Arnaldar is a Pirate. He’s studying Sociology and Media studies at Reykjavik University, is six-foot-five, sports long jet black locks with a beard and a gothic overcoat to match – and is a spokesperson for the youth organisation of Iceland’s Pirate Party.

“If you told me a couple of years ago that I would be running for parliament and more or less engaged full time in politics, I would have thought you’re crazy,” he says. “But here I am.”

Though he doesn’t look very much like most peoples’ idea of a potential parliamentarian, there’s something logical about his particular place in the bonkers Icelandic political scene. “All around the world young people are disenfranchised in terms of traditional politics, and here it is no different,” he says.

“The idea of going into a booth every couple of years and putting a cross next to some name that doesn’t reflect your views makes no sense to people, especially the younger generation who have learned to communicate and influence people across borders, across political frontiers.” The Pirate Party was started in Sweden around copyright reform, in the wake of the Wikileaks scandal and the shutdown of Pirate Bay.

HH Iceland Landscapes 021

​Photo by Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton​

The Icelandic chapter formed around 2012 and the party currently has three MPs in parliament as well as a representative in Reykjavik City Council. “We’re trying to start a new political culture,” Arnaldar says. “Mainstream politics is all about infighting and finger pointing – but we in the Pirate Party try to work with as many people as possible and attempt to find common ground.” Although fully engaged in the political process, it’s hard to tease out any specific ideology from this particular pirate – and indeed, the idea of a fixed set of policies seems anathema to the Pirates in general.

Most of the energy remains around the repressive nature of copyright laws – and an almost evangelical belief in the liberating nature of a completely open-access, copyright-free World Wide Web. “Copyright is used as an excuse to keep tabs on people and to initiate huge surveillance systems,” he says. “The real solution to online piracy is enabling good services that provide access to different material.

Our main vision is centred on the International Modern Media initiative, which is a set of proposals supposed to make Iceland the greatest place on Earth for investigative journalism. We want the best freedom of speech laws, the best source protection laws. Our vision is that Iceland should become the Switzerland for Brits.”

This article originally appeared in Huck 49 – The Survival Issue. Grab a copy in the Huck Shop  or subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss another issue.
Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Fragile, intimate portraits of California’s imprisoned youth
Photography

Fragile, intimate portraits of California’s imprisoned youth

New monograph ‘A Poor Imitation of Death’ documents and humanises the stories of seven young Californian inmates, aged between 16 and 20 years old, who were tried as adults despite being juveniles.

Written by: Isaac Muk

I was made homeless 11 days after the Asylum decision I waited 16 years for
Election 2024

I was made homeless 11 days after the Asylum decision I waited 16 years for

After spending years waiting for a decision on his refugee status torture survivor Gideon discovered his traumatic fight for security was far from over.

Written by: Gideon, a client at Freedom from Torture

Save the date for Rishi’s Leaving Drinks
Election 2024

Save the date for Rishi’s Leaving Drinks

Huck is teaming up with our friends at Dalston Superstore and Queer House Party to bring you an election night viewing party like no other.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor
Activism

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor

Groups and artists have been campaigning for Live Nation to drop the bank as a sponsor for Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight over alleged ties to the arms trade.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East
Outdoors

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East

New photo book ‘Football كرة القدم’ draws together pictures from over a dozen photographers to explore the region’s vibrant football culture.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes
Election 2024

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes

East London legend Crystal talks to Huck about her new campaign, Vote, Babes! which brings together over 20 drag artists to encourage young people to use their vote.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now