Last week we talked about the insurgent political group in Iceland known as the Pirate Party and how they seemed poised to overturn the tables of the money changers in that nation’s elections this weekend. The polls didn’t bear out entirely with the landslide that some had been predicting, but the Pirates did manage to capture a significant number of seats in the Parliament, severely undercutting the formerly strong Progressive Party. The shift in power was enough to make the nation’s Prime Minister resign his post shortly after the polls closed. (NY Times)
Iceland’s prime minister announced on Sunday that he would resign, as the insurgent, anti-establishment Pirate Party capitalized on a wave of anger over corruption to come in second place in the country’s general election.
The prime minister, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, announced his departure on national television after his center-right Progressive Party’s share of seats in the 63-seat Parliament collapsed to eight from 19 in the previous election, in 2013.
Mr. Johannsson’s predecessor as prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, was forced from office in April amid accusations of conflicts of interest after revelations in leaked documents, known as the Panama Papers, of the hidden wealth of the country’s elite.
As with most parliamentary systems, Iceland still won’t have a single party ruling as a majority, but rather a coalition of hopefully like minded groups who have to hammer out a cooperative ruling block. The shape of that thus far looks to be a situation where the Pirates will join in with some of the other far left groups, rounding up nearly half of the 63 seats in the legislative body. (Their Parliament is known as the Althing and it’s been in existence since 930 AD with a distinctly Viking flavor to it.) Does that mean that there will be a Pirate Prime Minister? It doesn’t sound like it, but their power is definitely on the rise.
At this point, Iceland seems to be something of a microcosm of mostly peaceful revolts taking place on both sides of the Atlantic. The people were clearly fed up with corruption among elected officials, even though theirs seems to be on a comparatively minor scale when you’re talking about the Panama Papers. They also want a more direct role for the people in how the government is operated, with direct internet referendums held on questions of the day. The rest of the Pirate Platform (which we covered last week) looks essentially socialist in nature, however. Still, there seem to be some uncanny parallels between what’s going on there and the upheavals we’ve seen in both the United States and Europe.
Party on, Pirates. Let’s hope you’re as good at governing as you are a campaigning.