Pirate Party’s electoral haul smaller than expected

Icelandic party of activists, hackers and internet freedom advocates triples vote share but ends up third-largest in parliament.

Birgitta Jonsdottir of Iceland’s Pirate Party speaks to reporters in Reykjavik on October 30, 2016, a day after parliamentary   elections in which her party placed third behind the Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement. Frank Augstein / AP Photo
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REYKJAVIK // The radical Pirate Party made gains but not a breakthrough in Iceland’s election, results showed on Sunday, with voters favouring the incumbent centre-right Independence Party over the advocates of direct democracy and digital freedom.

No party emerged with a majority of parliament seats from an election dominated by public discontent at the establishment after years of financial crisis and political turmoil.

With almost all votes from Saturday’s election counted, the Independence Party had 29 per cent support and the Pirate Party 14.5 per cent, putting them in third place behind the Left-Green movement at 15.9 per cent.

The result should give the Independence Party about 21 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, with the Left-Greens and Pirates winning 10 each.

It’s a better performance than expected for the Independents, who have governed in coalition since 2013.

The Pirates’ result fell short of what some polls had suggested – and what the party’s fleet of energetic volunteers and supporters had hoped.

Founded four years ago by an assortment of hackers, political activists and internet freedom advocates, the Pirate Party drew international attention as its support surged.

Like Spain’s Podemos or the movement behind Bernie Sanders in the US presidential race, it drew in throngs of mostly young supporters fed up with the status quo.

Pirate Party MP Birgitta Jonsdottir said the results were in line with the party’s own prediction of between 12 and 15 per cent – up from the 5 per cent it secured in 2013.

“We’re just amazed that we’ll possibly maybe triple our following from last time, and it’s only three years,” Ms Jonsdottir said.

The election result looks set to trigger a period of intense political negotiations. It was not immediately clear whether the Independents had the support to assemble a coalition government with other parties of the centre and right.

* Associated Press