In elections this week, the Dutch Pirate Party failed to enter Parliament. However, the party still pulled off a tremendous feat in tripling its vote count across the country.
As the votes have been counted in the Netherlands from the September 12 elections, it is clear that the Dutch Piratenpartij got 0.33% of the votes. This is not enough for a seat, but it is a tripling from the last result of 0.11%.
Tripling support at that level, going from some 10,000 votes to some 30,000 votes, is an extraordinary feat. It is the hardest passage to pass as a new party: the normal “tripling” of support happens when going from 1 to 3 supporters, or possibly from 2 to 6. At the tens-of-thousands level, I would argue that this particular growth phase is the most difficult, as it’s just below the critical mass for public awareness and yet the largest necessary growth in absolute numbers.
The Dutch political system has long meant that the Dutch Piratenpartij is a dark horse in the race for the first national parliamentary pirate seat. Its political system is one that favors dark horses and political challengers. Unlike Sweden, where you need 4% of the national vote to take a single seat, or Germany, where you need 5%, there is no such barrier in the Netherlands. The first parliamentary seat is awarded at about two-thirds of a percent of the national vote.
However, it is not all that simple. Challenger parties with a real shot on Parliament get tremendous amounts of media spotlights in countries like Sweden and Germany, judging from the pirate breakthroughs there. In the Netherlands, however, the people are so used to small parties in parliament with just one or a handful of seats, that seeing a new challenger poll at parliamentary levels barely produces a newsblip at all. Therefore, the Dutch Piratenpartij had no significant help from the media spotlights in achieving this feat, but had to pull their own weight entirely in tripling to 0.33%.
And let’s not forget that the same rules apply in the Netherlands as in all other countries – the same instant you start taking votes in a measureable amount over the old-guard politicians’ running the copyright industry’s and the big brother industry’s errands, policy starts shifting towards a better direction. There’s absolutely nothing that gets politicians’ attention faster than the prospect of kicking them out of office.
Based on this trajectory, the Dutch Piratenpartij gets in, come their next election. Then again, so does the German Piratenpartei. Race on.