An election in Sweden for seats in the European Union Parliament might offer some insight to Americans about what happens when the power of the Internet gets married to voter apathy.
Granted, the EU parliamentary elections drew little interest throughout Europe. And the EU Parliament serves more as a lobbying entity than a governmental body. But “The Piratpartiet” or “Pirate Party” in Sweden took advantage of that apathy to organize a youth vote on the Web — where it held its annual party convention — and to run a lively national campaign for its candidate slate at a total cost of Euro 50,000 — approximately $70,000.
The party claimed to use an “Obama” model for raising money and support among voters age 26 and younger. It focuses on niche but highly popular issues related to the Internet and Web — government intervention and regulation, which it opposes, looser copyright laws, which it supports, and more online privacy, which it wants.
Pre-Election polls showed the Pirate Party — at age 3, an infant in Sweden’s political scheme — running a strong third heading into the elections.
In the U.S., Democrats and Republicans raise and spend millions of dollars to maintain the strength and homogenous signature of the two-party system by keeping independent parties at bay. The lack of voting choice must at some point cause a shift from that two-party system.
The Web could be a great equalizer in that because it ostensibly costs nothing to use. Social networking attests to its power to link and unite diverse groups and it remains free of U.S. government intervention and regulation — two things the two-party system controls.
Still, a third-party or multiparty movement in the U.S. would require a crack in the foundation of the two-party system — one that over time with pressure and a widening would fall prey to a larger breach.
I also think it would require equal pressure on the Electoral College system for electing presidents. People who oppose that system must get a glimmer of hope from the state’s rights movements cropping up throughout the country in the form of state legislatures denouncing big federal government.
Yes, I know. A lot of pieces make up this puzzle, but the Obama election points to ways the pieces can fall together.
Maybe the Libertarians, the Greens, the Communists and the host of “independent” parties that exist throughout the U.S. might one day consider sailing under one flag, an American version of “The Piratpartiet.”