In one month, on May 25 at 20:00, the voting stations close for the European Elections. You’re never entitled to complain when media doesn’t cover you, but for some reason, the fifth-largest party out of Sweden’s eight – the Pirate Party – is consistently omitted from listings, events, debates, and coverage ahead of European Elections. For a challenger, this would be acceptable, but not for a defender of title: the pretend-does-not-exist attitude is reaching ridiculous levels.
Sweden has eight parties in the European Parliament, all of which are up for re-election in exactly one month. Of these, the Pirate Party is the fifth largest with two seats out of Sweden’s 20; three political parties are measurably smaller with just one seat. In a reasonable election, these eight parties – defenders of their respective title – would be treated fairly equally, with credible challengers given a go at pointing out the shortcomings of the title defenders.
Yesterday, the Svenska Dagbladet (“Swedish Daily Paper”) – as the name implies, one of Sweden’s largest daily newspapers – published their election assistant with 25 questions to assist people in choosing which party to vote for. Launched on April 25, with the European Elections one month out, on May 25 – perfect timing. There’s only one strange catch: you can’t get a recommendation to vote for the Pirate Party. As in, the party is not even in there. The other seven title-defending parties are, as well as one challenger. The election assistant is effectively saying that the Pirate Party does not exist, but all the other seven do.
It’s not a freak accident. This has happened all the time in the time leading up to the European Elections. The Pirate Party is consistently dropped from lists of parties defending the title. Even Public Service Television, the Swedish SVT, is hosting a debate between party leaders on May 4, just three days before the voting opens on May 7. One challenger, the Sweden Democrats, is allowed to participate. But the Pirate Party was not invited to the debate, despite defending seats; all other seven title defenders were invited and are there. Public Service Television defends themselves on their blog by saying that the debate just before the European Election is about domestic issues (do read the comments tearing that argument apart), but not before having silently dropped all references to the imminent European Elections from the debate’s advertising.
Two mistakes only? Hardly. How about this rather ordinary presentation of top candidates in an ordinary newspaper, presented as “the eight top candidates”?
Or how about a winners’ list of online follower counts for the parties running for European Parliament, with tons of analysis, completely omitting the Pirate Party from that list – despite the Pirate Party having more followers than any other party, and would therefore top that list?
This goes on and on and on with countless examples – how practically the entire Swedish media establishment is collectively pretending that Sweden’s fifth-largest party in the European Elections out of eight does not exist, whenever defenders of the title or eligible parties are listed. It’s breathtakingly bizarre.
For reference, the defenders listed are the Moderaterna (M), Socialdemokraterma (S), Vänstern (V), Miljöpartiet (MP), Centern (C), Kristdemokraterna (KD), and the Folkpartiet (FP). The challenger listed is typically the Sverigedemokraterna (SD), sometimes joined by the Feministiskt Initiativ (Fi). The one consistently and conspicuously missing is the Piratpartiet (PP), the fifth-largest party in the middle of the pack.
Fortunately, Swedish oldmedia continuously measures its own bias to Sweden’s political parties, so that it is at least aware of any shortcomings in the reporting. Here’s the latest bias measurement (full report here):
These scientific measurements do not show any bias for or against Swedens fifth-largest party in the imminent European Elections, the Piratpartiet. Fact is, the party is not even listed as a defender in the report at all – it’s not just a lack of data, it’s not listed as if it didn’t exist – so there’s nothing to alert oldmedia to a potential subjective bias, should it happen to be there.
This is getting seriously ridiculous.