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Who on earth do I vote for on June 7th?

Good question.

Let’s start with having a look at the European Parliament, which contains members from national political parties from all member states. There’s obviously no one individual party which has any kind of control of the parliament in terms of a high percentage of seats. Parties from the different countries have therefore formed broadly ideological alliances.

This is how the European Parliament looks now, divided by its major political groups (which ought not to be confused with pan-European political parties). A right old alphabet soup it is, too:

EPP-ED

Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (284 seats, including 6 Swedish)

PES

Socialist Group in the European Parliament (215, 5)

ALDE/ADLE

Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (103, 3)

UEN

Union for Europe of the Nations Group (44, 0)

Greens/EFA

Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance (42, 1)

EUL-NGL

Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (41, 2)

IND/DEM

Independence/Democracy Group (24, 2)

NI

Not attached (32, 0)

So, when considering for whom you wish to cast your ballot, it’s not only worth thinking about what the Swedish party or candidate stands for, but also which of the above party groups a given candidate is likely to join.

In Sweden, voters can choose from established political parties represented in the Riksdag, as well as a wide-range of fringe and protest parties from across the political spectrum.

Next: But what do the parties in Sweden actually want to do?

Step by Step guide:

1. The European Parliament in 30 seconds or less

2. European Parliamentary Elections

3. Who can vote in Sweden?

4. How do I vote and how does the election work?

5. Who on earth do I vote for on June 7th?

6. But what do the parties in Sweden actually want to do?

6 a.   Riksdag Parties (from left to right)

6 b.   Other parties to watch (in no particular order)

Back to the Election Guide main page

PIRATE PARTY

Sweden’s political pirates signal internet’s election power

If tech-savvy campaigning helped power Barack Obama to the White House, the election of Sweden's Pirate Party in Europe signals that Internet and related privacy issues are political drivers for young voters.

Sweden's political pirates signal internet's election power

The party, which wants an internet filesharing free-for-all while beefing up internet privacy, won 7.1 percent of Sunday’s votes, taking one of Sweden’s 18 seats in the EU Parliament.

“It’s fabulous political recognition,” 37-year-old founder Rick Falkvinge, an information technology entrepreneur, told AFP. “And it hasn’t come from the ‘establishment,’ the mainstream voters. It has come from the ground, the citizens, and it feels great.”

Founded in January 2006, the Pirate Party has attracted largely young, tech-literate males angered by controversial laws adopted in the country that criminalised filesharing and authorised monitoring of emails.

Its membership trebled within a week after a Stockholm court in April sentenced four Swedes to a year in jail for running one of the world’s biggest filesharing sites, The Pirate Bay.

With 23.6 percent of votes among under 30s, and 70 percent of them male, according to pollsters, the party has leapt from nowhere to the top of the table among a generation broadly characterised by political apathy.

“The old politicians don’t understand…,” added Falkvinge. “They see these issues as an isolated problem — they function far from the keyboard, and are not (digitally) connected.”

He claimed that state surveillance rights “threaten a way of life for a generation who have gone to the ballot boxes to defend” the technological freedoms they have grown up with.

Seen at its formation as a joke, the Pirate Party largely bodyswerved traditional issues dividing left and right, a political scientist at Gothenburg University, Ulf Bjereld, told AFP.

“They are seen as a protest party because they refused to be drawn on great areas of debate such as equal opportunities, taxation or pollution,” Bjereld said.

“They have concentrated on themes close to their heart and left the other parties to slug it out on other questions.”

Many members say they joined because they fear a “Big Brother” society.

The party also wants to do away with the lucrative system that grants major drug companies’ exclusive patents.

However, Bjereld was at pains to stress these developed world ‘pirates’ should not be classed among extremists, arguing such voters represent a new class of liberal.

He predicted that their elected member, Christian Engström, will sit in the parliament’s dual Brussels and Strasbourg chambers alongside mainstream liberals and greens.

It has picked up protest votes from left and right, but mainly mobilised those who normally bypass the ballot box, said the head of Sifo polling institute, Toivo Sjoren.

“If this party hadn’t been on the ballot paper, I simply wouldn’t have voted,” said Daniel Wijk, a 29-year-old website developer.

“These questions of protection of privacy and Internet freedom are what motivate me,” he added, articulating his anger at “policing” via modern communications technologies.

“We are not all criminals,” he said.

Looking to Sweden’s next general election in September 2010, political analyst Mats Knutson called the result a “formidable cold shower” for Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

“The Pirate Party has taken advantage of a new cleavage in Swedish politics, about civil liberties, about who should have the right to decide over knowledge,” Bjereld told AFP on Sunday.

The Pirate Party, which has sister parties in 20 countries, also fielded candidates in Poland and Germany.

More than half of US adults used the internet to engage in the race for the White House, according to a study released in April.

Obama’s use of the medium to raise money and volunteers was a major factor behind his November 4th victory, numerous political analysts have said.

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