Once a year, every year, people from the world’s pirate parties gather to exchange experiences, get to know one another, and formally vote on the leadership on the Pirate Parties International (PPI). This time has come again.
Party leaders, senior officials, passionate activists, and just generally cool people from the world’s pirate parties gather for this weekend – April 13-15 – in Prague, Czech Republic.
Like last year, I’ve been honored with holding the closing keynote. In the 2011 conference in Friedrichshafen, Germany, I asked the audience the straightforward question, “why are you here?”. There’s a video of that keynote, subtitled in seven languages, as well as a newly-made English transcript if you prefer reading to watching. This year, I’ll be making a “state of the movement” address.
There’s a ton of difference between last year’s conference and this year’s in terms of how the pirate parties are perceived. In the spring of 2011, only Sweden’s pirate party had had any real semblance of a breakthrough. Today, the German Piratenpartei is polling at 13%, being Europe’s largest country’s third largest party, and the Austrian party has just opened at 7%. That’s a complete change of scene in just a year, which leads me to predict that we will have two or three more parties, if not even more, having broken through to mainstream and polling at parliamentary levels at the time of the 2013 PPI conference – in another year from now.
As a result, the conference is also swarming with journalists, from what I’ve understood. At least, compared to previous years. Not that I mind – it is my job to help reporters write good, fact-based stories about who we are and why we’re doing this, and the PPI meeting is as good as a gathering as it gets to meet a diverse group of passionate pirate activists.
An attempt to form a Pirate Party international was first made in Vienna, Austria, in the summer of 2007:
We were all passionate activists and nothing more back then. One person in this photo is now a Member of European Parliament. Others… well, there are several founders of their country’s pirate party in this picture, including the two parties that are now polling at 13% and 7%, as well as several others that have yet to break through. I have to say it feels fantastic to have been part of this journey of rewriting the world’s political map – no, scratch that, it’s not past tense. It feels awesome to be on this journey with so many brilliant and energizing people.
We’re rewriting the rules of the world’s innovation economy to make way for a new generation of commercemaking and a new generation of empowered citizens, and I love it every day. My flight for Prague leaves in four hours.