Iceland’s Pirates gun for anti-government grand alliance

From the Pirate press conference yesterday.

From the Pirate press conference yesterday. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Árni Sæberg

Iceland’s Pirate Party (‘Píratar’) has issued an up-front refusal to work with either of the two current governing parties after the next elections – in a move unprecedented in Icelandic political history.

“These early elections have come about as a result of the corruption revealed to the world by the Panama Papers,” explains Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir. “Five ministers have been exposed as corrupt since the current government took power.”

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 “In some of the biggest protests in Icelandic history, the public expressed their desire for change,” she says.

Thousands attended anti-government protests earlier this year in the wake ...

Thousands attended anti-government protests earlier this year in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Golli

In a press conference yesterday, the Pirates ruled out any possibility of entering a coalition with either of the current two governing parties, the centre-right Independence Party (‘Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn’) and the centrist Progressive Party (‘Framsóknarflokkurinn’).

Instead, the Pirates have sent a letter to a leaders of the three other opposition parties currently with MPs in the Icelandic Parliament (‘Alþingi’) and to the brand-new Regeneration (‘Viðreisn’) party, inviting them to pre-election coalition talks.

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“A tradition has developed in Icelandic politics of electoral pledges frequently being reneged upon after elections,” reads a Pirate statement. “Political parties forming a government in Iceland hide behind compromises in coalition, enabling them to cheat their voters again and again.”

Leader of the Progressive Party Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (left) and ...

Leader of the Progressive Party Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (left) and the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson (right). Photo: Iceland Monitor/Golli

“The Pirates are prepared to begin talks on cooperation with other parties immediately, on the basis of the party’s main areas of core policy, in order to present a draft coalition agreement before the people go to the polls.”

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“We have taken this decision as the Pirates believe in the importance of informed decision-making. Voters are entitled to know what their vote will mean.”

Among the Pirates’ stated demands are systemic changes in politics, political reform, and a war against corruption and greed.

The Pirates scored just 5.1% in the 2013 elections, but ...

The Pirates scored just 5.1% in the 2013 elections, but are polling over 20% now. Photo: Icelandi Monitor/Styrmir Kári

This is an unprecedented step, according to Professor of Political Science at the University of Akureyri, Grétar Þór Eyþórsson.

Unlike in other Nordic countries, for instance,Icelandic parties have generally stood for elections alone without committing to any other party, with coalition talks taking place only once the results are in.

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“This is a decisive move by the Pirates to limit its options for coalition after the elections in this way,” Prof. Eyþórsson explains. “To rule out entirely working with either of the current two governing parties will affect how the overall picture plays out.”

Icelanders will be voting in 63 new MPs on 29 ...

Icelanders will be voting in 63 new MPs on 29 October. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Styrmir Kári

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