If you haven’t taken a close look at the Pirate Party platform, you might think they’re just another ridiculous fringe party. They play up the pirate theme: Their logo is a skull wearing an eye patch and party leaders can sometimes be seen wearing bits of pirate flare, like a fake hook for a hand. But although they have a penchant for the whimsical, these Pirates have a serious platform. Noam Kozar is the Israel Pirate Party spokesperson:
The Pirate Party is an international movement of free thinkers who believe that democracy can be achieved through better means than putting a paper ballot in a carton box every couple of years — primarily using the internet to measure public opinion. So we can use that to create policy that actually reflects what people think.
Israel’s Pirate Party is one branch in an international movement that began in Sweden. And Pirate Parties in several European countries have won seats in parliamentary bodies.
Since the Knesset electoral threshold was raised, there’s really no hope that Israel’s small and relatively new Pirate Party will win a seat in this election. But they’re using the elections as an opportunity to speak out about the electoral and governing systems.
Many people in Israel feel that the political system doesn’t represent their opinions or their views. So we want to put new blood into the system and right now what they’re doing is the opposite. They’re making the electoral threshold percentage higher. They’re making it bigger parties who have more internal constraints in passing laws and voting. And we want to see a more colorful Knesset with more debate and more people from all types of populations here.
The Pirate Party advocates a system of liquid democracy in which the internet would be used to facilitate a more inclusive, democratic legislature.
The idea is that instead of giving four-year rights to some party to make any decision about any issue, we can use the internet to make the system better and to have actual people vote on the issues. People do it all the time: People click “Like,” people have their opinions, and public opinion shifts quicker than once every couple of years.
So here’s how representation would work:
Anyone can be a representative. I can represent, let’s say, ten people, on a certain issue — let’s say legalizing cannabis — and then I can give my ten votes to someone else who can collect even more, and then there’s a liquid kind of representation where eventually you can get the public opinion using a vote to see exactly what the public decides and not some representative who doesn’t necessarily know everything about everything.
Israel’s Pirate Party is definitely a bit of an oddball, but their vision and value of democracy is unique, especially now, in light of what many view as the erosion of democracy.
Produced by Shoshi Shmuluvitz.