This past weekend, elections were held in Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. The Pirate Party of Luxembourg tripled their support and entered the Luxembourg Parliament with two MPs, and in the Czech Republic, the Pirate Party increased their support further – now receiving a full 17% in Prague.
With 6.45% of the votes of the final tally, the Luxembourg Pirate Party is entering its national Parliament, being the fifth Pirate Party to enter a national or supranational legislature (after Sweden, Germany, Iceland, and the Czech Republic). This may not seem like much, but it is a very big deal, for reasons I’ll elaborate on later. A big congratulations to Sven Clement and Marc Goergen, new Members of Parliament for Luxembourg!
Further, the Czech Republic has had municipal elections, and the Czech Pirate Party showed a full 17.1% support in Prague, the Czech capital, making the Pirates the second biggest party with a very narrow gap to the first place (at 17.9%). This may or may not translate to votes for the Czech national legislature, but is nevertheless the highest score recorded so far for a Pirate Party election day. I understand the Czech Pirates have as many as 275 (two hundred and seventy-five!) newly-elected members of city councils, up from 21 (twenty-one). Well done, well done indeed!
For people in a winner-takes-all system, like the UK or United States, this may sound like a mediocre result. In those countries, there are usually only two parties, and the loser with 49% of the vote gets nothing. However, most of Europe have so-called proportional systems, where 5% of the nationwide votes gives you 5% of the national legislation seats. In these systems, the parties elected to Parliament negotiate between themselves to find a ruling majority coalition of 51%+ of the seats, trying to negotiate common positions between parties that are reasonably close to each other in policy. This usually requires a few weeks of intense negotiations between the elections and the presentation of a successfully negotiated majority coalition.
Further, it could reasonable be asked what kind of difference the Czech Republic or Luxembourg could possibly make on their own in the global information repression. The answer is, a whole lot. The key here is realizing that one country is sufficient to break the global repression of information; the repression is completely dependent on every single country keeping watertight doors. If one single country decides to allow the free movement of culture and knowledge, then all such distribution will immediately be based there. The copyright industry lobby in other countries will protest, quite loudly, but there’s not really anything they can do about it.
And since the problem from a policymaking standpoint has been that the industry-age era politicians consider the Internet-related policy areas completely peripheral in the first place, conceding those policy areas will be seen as very cheap price to bind those votes to a majority coalition.
“One country is sufficient to break the global repression of information.”
A relevant comparison is how Canada has now legalized cannabis at the country level, following many state-level initiatives here and there in the world, and at once, the floodgates are open. Not just for the illegal distribution networks, but more importantly, for legalization everywhere else. As a German politician dryly said today, “what’s possible in Canada is also possible in Germany”, proposing that cannabis should be legalized outright in Germany. I would imagine the tone is similar in most places — or, importantly, many enough places.
The Luxembourg and Prague coalition talks have just started, with an outcome typically expected in a few weeks.