Case Study: Píratar, Iceland

The Pirate Party of Iceland was founded in 2012 as an anti-establishment protest party. Their aim is to combat the establishment parties by encouraging free-flowing debate, with no voting commitments for party members. They can be described as libertarian in ideology.


As a consequence of the economic crisis starting in 2008, the population in Iceland wasincreasingly disillusioned by the political system and traditional parties and outraged by corruption scandals. They were on the lookout for a real alternative which gave rise to the Píratar. Given the party's orientation as anti-authoritarian, non-traditional, grassroot and direct democratic organization that encourages unrestrained participation of members, the Píratar tried to establish a leadership structure that incorporated these principals while ensuring organizational stability for long-term success.


The Píratar chose to adopt a flat-hierarchy organizational structure without party leadership roles, making extensive use of an online platform for intra-party coordination, debate, policy-making and candidate selection instead. The Piratar do not have a party leadership (Lög Piratar, 2023). Rather, the policy-making process in the party revolves around the Grunnstefna Pírata, the "Core Policy". It has 6 pillars, Critical thinking, Civil rights, Privacy, Transparency, Freedom of Information and Direct democracy, which serve as the cornerstone that representatives of the party use to vote in parliament. This has ensured that the party maintained its anti- establishment profile while finding an organizational setup that has proven to be stable and resilient to internal as well as external challenges the party has faced since its founding. The Píratar thereby managed to encourage lasting active participation from a large number of members without having to compromise on their direct democratic and anti-authoritarian ideals. This means that individual members have a very large agenda setting power when it comes to party policy. This is in line with the party's attempt to present a new way of doing politics in which engagement of ordinary members is encouraged. Members can easily contribute to discussions and votes on the online platform from home at any time of the day making it much more easily accessible to members compared to traditional parties.


The Píratar established themselves successfully as a part of the political system in Iceland whilecontinuing to be perceived as anti-establishment. They have been represented in the national Parliament for over 10 consecutive years now, are represented in several municipalityparliaments and part of the governing coalition in the council of the capital city Reykjavik.
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