One Month Before Elections, Swedish Oldmedia's Pretend-Does-Not-Exist Attitude Toward Pirate Party Reaching Ridiculous Levels

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”?

The ETC newspaper presenting the "top 8 candidates" - seven defenders of the title, plus a challenger at bottom right. In small print, it notes "also running: Pirate Party, Feminist Initiative, and June List". The Pirate Party is not presented as a defender at all.
The ETC newspaper presenting the "top 8 candidates" – seven defenders of the title, plus a challenger at bottom right. In small print, it notes "also running: Pirate Party, Feminist Initiative, and June List". The Pirate Party is not presented as a defender at all.

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):

Swedish oldmedia bias measurement, as reported by TNS SIFO, per party. The report slide title says "Number of positive/neutral vs. criticizing articles, per party". The measurement lists seven defenders and two challengers.
Swedish oldmedia bias measurement, as reported by TNS SIFO, per party. The report slide title says “Number of positive/neutral vs. criticizing articles, per party”. The measurement lists seven defenders and two challengers.

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.

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. Slash

    If the last years in Germany one could learn anything, then that the “pretend-does-not-exist approach” in order to hold a competing political party small won’t work ! The people are not dumb and will sympathize even more with the underdog. If I would be you, I’d push this one petition for inviting a pirate in this one big swedish TV show before the elections, and additionally, I’d make heavy use of own distribution: Use the Intenet, Twitter, and especially: file sharing and internet message boards. Of course all with hints, that you’re ruled out in TV… you need to go external.

  2. Anonymous

    so the answer is to ensure that the electorate vote for the PP and that any need to wanting recounts are strictly adhered to and then stamped into the mud! the PP may well only have 3 seats atm, but i’ll bet a dollar there will be more after the elections, unless, of course, the rest manage to fix the votes! considering the backers and the way everything has been done by the present government to penalise ordinary people just to please the USA and their entertainment industries whilst performing what can only be described as criminal acts against people, again just to please those same industries, 1,000’s of miles away i hope when the results are in and arseholes are puckering, those responsible for what has happened to Swedish citizens in order to please another nation are taken to task and if possible prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law!!

  3. next_ghost

    If the media won’t invite you to debates, you can sometimes invite yourself:

    For those not speaking Czech, this is a short clip from a public election debate organized by one of Czech large newspapers before the 2013 early parliamentary elections. The host of the debate asks for questions from the audience. The first guy who gets to ask a question says: “I’d like to ask the leader of Pirate Party, Ivan Bartos, what do you think about not being invited here?” Then Ivan Bartos stands up elsewhere in the audience also with a microphone in hand and answers the question. XD

  4. Anonymous

    it’s obvious why so much is being done to exclude the PP and the candidates. the rest of the parties and there representatives, particularly those in government atm, are crapping backwards! they know the PP is a very real threat to the way things have been run in Sweden, certainly for the last few years, with as much help as possible being given to a nation many miles away and in particular, an industry of that nation. the way it has treated citizens, not because they did wrong but because they could be treated like something lower then a snakes backside, they did so. and have allowed those people, one in particular, to carry on being persecuted all at the behest of top politicians and industry heads from across the water! those in government atm need to feel the force of a new generation of people and of leaders. i sure as hell hope the elections give the old guard the shocks of their lives, shocks they definitely deserve! one word of caution to the PP candidates, beware of false ballot results and continuous recounts! those in power atm cant be trusted and will do whatever they can think of to keep you out!!

  5. Anonymous coward.

    Not invited to a debate? Show up anyway.

  6. SameDoKan

    Dear Rick,

    When there is SHIT to be told about a certain subject, and you do not want to be accused of not telling evident truths when reporting only the BLING BLING… you have but one option for not talking about the SHIT… not to tell ANYTHING about the subject. (in English).

    Works in Germany, works in Spain, works in Belgium, and I guess in Sweden and the rest of the world too.

    Go sign the “no assholes BUT OUR ASSHOLES” pledge too…

    Sad day for the Pirate Movement, the Swarm has created an IDIOCRAZY :(.


  7. Jens

    There is a political party in Sweden that has always been complaining about not being invited and they have been very successful in doing so. I know people, that even today claim that this party is being kept out of media, but this is no longer true. When it comes to the Swedish Pirate Party, they are definitely being kept out of the light. If I where the leader of the pirates, I would take the first opportunity I got and tell the Swedish people how bad media is treating the party. This would of course require a live televised show, or else it would just get censored.

    Rick, you are doing a fine job with your English blog, but I think that you should write a little in Swedish from now and until the election. There are few people I know, that can get peoples attention like you can.

  8. Idee

    Please, don’t missunderstand me (wrong:) ), but you got this notification:

    Your party leader was a Cover Girl! Noone else was…so get it on! Don’t cry. In Germany, the only party (FDP) which cried and was in the ruling government (not opposition this time), doesn’t even get into Parliament. So, pls don’t cry, be STRONG!

    If I am a Swedish Pirate, i wish I’m (proud), I would wear Cat things instead of hats these days. They did a perfectly nice and positive (cats are) ad for you. Ok, that day was bad, but hey you have to look what media do and correspond to that in election times.

    You can even do something with mice. And again, this is obviously not Pirate’s terrain. But they already did your election campain with no costs. It is up to you to get it run.

    You even can do something with doors. To open them or such kind. Please be more creative or let me play with your phantasy.

    Get your “mimimimi” on to this:

  9. Autolykos

    This is a bad sign for the party – we’re losing progress. We were at the point where oldmedia was making fun of us and occasionally even fighting us years ago, but now we’re just back to being ignored. And that happens while a story we couldn’t have picked any better (the NSA leaks) were all over the papers and the old parties try their best to ignore the angry tiger in the room that’s already nibbling on some guests.
    On the plus side, some of our ideas and positions have already diffused into the mainstream: The old parties are starting to recognize that there are votes to be won by pretending to be concerned about surveillance and speaking of net neutrality as a good thing (while redefining what it means, but still).
    We already acheived most of what we could have realistically hoped for at the beginning. Our parties may be losing, but our ideas are winning.

    1. Idee

      Take it easy. We don’t be ignored for too long. “The spirits that I called..” (quote: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Goethe)
      Take a look at the future:
      “FOX19 Investigates: Hacker hijacks baby monitor”
      Hacker wakes up, frightens and filmes baby and parents. Parents and person concerned will take action in our place to level politicians and intel services down. It can’t be that it is our job to protect data on our own when NSA &Co look through every Cam and hear on every Mikro. That’s the same as at the airport when they gripped you everywhere and didn’t release grip.
      Just imagine: Once “hackers” steal our vids and voices you never get it back. => Social hacking and compromising/blackmailing individuals will be usual. Those who can’t afford to come up with Moore’s law just get filesharer stations for others (with better equipment). Police station will be targeted for data e.g. childporn; cause they are the only ones legit to have them to compare pics/hashes with criminals’ discs.
      Criminals will never ever download anything when you just have to hop from one IP-Vid/Voice-Cam to another for a chance to see something “fresh”. And this isn’t a screen-play script for next movie. In contrary every movie and book – like Orwell – will be taken as a “howto”-4-Dummies.

  10. Thomas

    Or it could simply be the other way around. You get media coverage according to your actual size and the interest that the voters show. It could simply be the case that the rest of us really don’t care about you, that you are totally irrelevant.

    1. gurrfield

      Or it could be that established media are afraid of becoming irrelevant. A free Internet opens up for new media, you know.

      Why did you think they rant about “net-hate” all the time? Their fear and desperation shines through. They obviously feel a need portray freedom of expression on the internet as bad.

      Why? Because if people can make their own blogs and read non-established media, that would be a competition / threat to them…

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  16. Dennis Nilsson

    The important for us Pirate Partist is not that “we” win, instead it is important that our ideas win.

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