Czech Pirate Libor Michálek won his district’s election yesterday, and was thereby elected Senator. Michálek is a well-known fighter in the Czech Republic for transparency, human rights, and civil liberties, and was running for senate with the Czech Pirate Party. This also means that the Czech Pirate Party has won the international race to national-level legislatures.
Libor Michálek was elected in a two-step election in the Prague 2 and 3 district, the most-watched district in all of the Czech Republic. Michálek ran on a Pirate ballot, but was also supported by the Greens and Christian Democrats. In the first step, he got 24% and qualified for a runoff with his primary opponent. In the runoff on October 19 and 20, he got almost 75% of the votes – thus getting elected senator, a first for the Pirate Party movement.
The race for national parliaments between the Pirate Parties has been on since 2006, and it has remained uncertain which country’s Pirate Party would win it. In Sweden, the Piratpartiet put two people in the European Parliament in 2009 (winning the race to international parliaments), but failed spectacularly in the next year’s national-level elections. Germany, a longstanding favorite, has its Piratenpartei putting 45 people in state-level parliaments, but the national-level elections are not due for another year. In Netherlands, the Dutch Piratenpartij missed a seat in the national legislature by a mere 0,3%. This race is now over, and the Czech Pirátská Strana has won.
Congratulations on your new job, Senator Michálek!
Michálek is famous in his own country as a whistleblower for exposing corruption in 1996, when he worked for the National Property Fund. In 2010, his complaints about fraudulent manipulation of procurement and tendering led to the dismissal of ministers and top officials. In March 2011, he was awarded the Endowment Fund Against Corruption Prize. In May 2011, he was awarded the František Kriegel Award from Charter 77 for the outstanding achievements in the struggle for human rights and civil liberties.
In July 2012, he announced that he would stand for the Senate in District 26 as a Pirate. He went on to win the first round with 24.3% of the votes. In the second round, he was elected senator with 74.4% of the votes.
It is particularly noteworthy, especially for our American, Canadian, British, French, and Australian colleagues, that senator Michálek was elected in a first-past-the-post system.
This is important, because the initial Pirate Party concept assumed dependence on a different system. In most countries in Europe, if you get 5% of the votes nationwide, you get 5% of the seats in parliament. This is called proportional representation. Some countries – like the US – have a completely different system, where you need a majority in a certain area (a constituency) to get a single seat. This is called first-past-the-post, and obviously, getting 51% of the vote in a fairly large area is a completely different ballgame than getting 5% nationwide.
We have long known that we are capable of getting 5% of the vote. As of today, we know that we’re also capable of winning first-past-the-post elections and getting 51%, even in capitals.
“This means that Pirates have gained representation in the Senate. Libor Michálek is now facing the difficult task of working with making the financial affairs of the state and public institutions fully transparent. As a senator, he will also have better access to documents, and we expect that he will continue to draw attention of the public to the current problems and cases”, says Jakub Michálek, 1st vice president of the Czech Pirates – and a namesake of Libor Michálek – in a press release.