Until a few weeks ago the Swedish Piracy Party was unknown among most Swedish voters. Likewise few Swedes were aware of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. The Pirate Bay verdict and the Telecoms Package changed all that.
On 14 April the founders of Pirate Bay, an internet file-sharing service, were sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay about 3 million euros in damages to entertainment companies for having violated copyright law. The verdict led to massive mobilization among Pirate Bay supporters in Sweden and elsewhere, claiming that the verdict was a declaration of war on a whole generation.
A few weeks later a mobilization on a similar scale took place ahead of the European Parliament’s second plenary vote on the Telecoms Package. Named in Swedish newspapers as ‘The battle about Internet’s future’, Brussels’ plan to cut off illegal downloaders from the internet (or 3 strikes and you’re out) caused outcry among Pirate Bay supporters, Swedish politicians and open citizens rights groups. All of sudden the EU was hugging the media limelight in Sweden.
This combination of events played in to the hands of the Swedish Piracy Party. From having had less than 1% support from Swedish voters, current estimates are that the party will get a seat in the next European Parliament, perhaps even two! More importantly the debate about illegal downloading and the future of the internet has been acting as a catalyst, raising the interest of the European parliamentary elections among ordinary Swedes. It remains to be seen if this interest will still be there on election day!