Dutch Pirate Party Now At The Door To Parliament

In the European Pirate Parties’ race for the first national parliament seat, an unexpected contender has appeared as a possible winner: the Netherlands. The Dutch Piratenpartij just had its first poll showing it would get a parliamentary seat in the September elections.

The Pirate Parties are gaining seats on more levels and in more countries all the time. While it is arguably still a nascent movement, the parties are still quite respectably represented. It started with two seats in the European Parliament from Sweden in 2009, then a number of local seats until the big bang in Berlin in the fall of 2011, after which the German Piratenpartei has had a string of solid successes at beating Germany’s five-percent threshold for parliamentary entry, gaining seats in state-level parliaments there.

There are pirates on local city councils in Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Spain.

The movement has also had its first government seat – Slim Amamou, Secretary of State for Sports and Youth in Tunisia. Noteworthily, this was in Northern Africa, and not in Europe.

Many Pirate Parties are polling at one-half to two per cent. This may seem insignificant, but getting to this level is immensely harder than getting from two to five per cent of the vote.

An interesting situation has appeared in the Netherlands – the Dutch go to the elections on September 12 of this year. Now, the Dutch Piratenpartij doesn’t have as impressive numbers as its German counterpart, but it is assisted by a particular feature of the Dutch political system: there is no threshold for entry to parliament. If you earn your seat, there’s no further cutoff.

The Piratenpartij needs 0.66% for one seat, and Dutch media has been reporting that the Pirate Party is one of three parties practically straddling that threshold – and just last weekend, we got a poll where the Dutch Pirate Party would have gotten a seat, were the elections held today.

However, we probably won’t see a repeat of the Berlin scenario, where the Pirate Party was the newcomer of the year and media’s darling in all the spotlights. That caused the German Piratenpartei to gain more visibility week by week, climbing from the 4.5% one month before the election – below the threshold – to the election result of 8.9% in that month, much thanks to the newcomer factor. The Dutch, due to their lack of parliamentary threshold, are used to newcomers – so it’s not mediaworthy in the same way that it looks like a newcomer might make it to Parliament. The Dutch Pirate Party will have to defend its seat in that poll through hard work and hard work alone.

That said, it’s a watershed event that the Dutch Piratenpartij has a seat in a poll.

By the way, I said European Pirate Parties at the start of this article. That’s not entirely accurate, of course. There are Pirate Parties pretty much worldwide, even if the original parliamentary hack depends on running in proportional-representation elections typical in Europe. That constraint would limit the original concept to Europe, Asia, South America, and the African democracies – mostly, but not quite. Even though Canada, the U.S., and other former British/French colonies adopted the British/French non-proportional system, there are some spots which do vote proportional.

An exciting contender worth mentioning is the Australian Pirate Party, which has proportional elections in October in the Australian Capital Territory, and which is now getting noticed. With hard work, I’d say they have a fair shot at getting the first national parliamentary seat in October, if the Dutch should stumble on the finish line in their September elections.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Rick Falkvinge

    Comments were initially closed on this article. That was a weird configuration error and not intentional.

  2. Viktualiebrodern

    Just to add to the picture: Czech republic September 8, Netherlands September 12, Belgium locals October 14th, Australia capital territory October 20th, Finland locals October 28th and, last but not least, US state elections November 6, with pirates running for state parliament in constituencies in Massachussetts and Florida.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Interesting! I need to check out the current numbers for PPCZ – they’ve been doing quite well when I’ve been looking at them.

      1. next_ghost

        The autumn elections in Czech republic are for regional councils. While PPCZ does have a pretty good chance of getting a few seats, nationwide polls often turn out to be completely meaningless for these elections.

    2. @collentine

      Switzerland has two upcoming elections as well. 23/9 municipal and 28/10 cantonal.

      They have been polling good and have a good pulling help from the Germans.

  3. harveyed

    Lol, I see what u did there 😛
    Great work reporting, Rick!

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  6. David Crafti

    The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) parliament is not a national parliament. It is more like a state parliament.The distinctions between states and territories is small enough in practice that most people don’t know that there’s a difference.

    There will probably be a federal election some time next year, and our upper house, the senate, has proportional representation, with a preference distribution system, so that is the national parliamentary house in which we’ve got the best chance of winning a seat, though in a normal election, each state only sends 6 people to the senate, after preference distribution. Australia’s electoral system is pretty complex…

  7. General elections in the Netherlands | Pirate Times

    […] With another three weeks before elections take place to get noticed even more this is a promising election for the pirate movement. Copyright for this picture: Sandra de […]

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