- direct democracy
- a new national constitution
- public vetoes over new laws
- greater scrutiny of the workings of government
- strict safeguards for individuals’ online and offline privacy
- public ownership of the country’s natural resources
Sounds commie? Populist? Utopian? Well, these are the proposed policies of the Pirate Party (yeah you heard me) of Iceland. We've talked about Iceland's experience (or experiment) in direct democracy a while ago here - now here's the logical outcome. Since the first two mainstream parties failed to form a government after the latest snap election in Iceland, now the Pirate Party is moving from the fringes into the spotlight:
Iceland's radical Pirate Party asked to form its next government
This sounds totally nuts until you consider a few facts about Iceland. One of our biggest money-makers is a game about space pirates (yeah, we Vikings love honoring our looting heritage). Our banks were among the first to be cleaned out from financial freebooters during the financial meltdown, a bunch of actual bankers even ending up in jail. We also have one of the smallest populations of any country. Apparently that viking DNA is hard to pacify in such a limited gene pool, heh. Obviously, NATO should totally turn Iceland into a maximum security prison for their worst criminals. Because we're also among the few nations that have welcomed brown-skinned bearded refugees with open arms instead of shutting them in concentration camps and pretending that this solves anything.
But seriously. Proposing that the Pirate Party should try to negotiate a viable coalition with other parties and form a government may seem nuts at a first sight, but it's actually a refreshing attempt to move away from mainstream politics, hand some responsibility over to radical populist grassroots movements, and see if that works. They don't carry the heavy political baggage of the other parties, after all, and might be seen as more impartial than most, therefore more capable of fostering compromise between the bigger players. If this works, hopefully it could serve to show that coalition governments are not only viable, but actually better than bipolar partisan politics that often end up in a protracted stalemate.
Or those could just be empty hopes. But don't blame me, I can't help it. We Icelanders are pathological optimists! Just wish us good luck and cross your fingers.