Elections 2018: Slovenia’s Pirate Party Focuses on Digital Natives and Marijuana (Feature)

By , 19 May 2018, 09:31 AM Politics
Can you spot Triglav? Can you spot Triglav? From the party's Facebook page

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STA, 18 May 2018 - The non-parliamentary Pirate Party (Piratska stranka) will try its luck in the general election for the second time. Polls place the marijuana legalisation advocates well below the 4% threshold, but there are also signs of a positive trend in the wake of the first round of public debates. 

All our election coverage can be found here, while our profiles of the major parties are here.

Established in 2012, some six years after the emergence of the first pirate party in Europe, the Pirates are best known in Slovenia for their fight to decriminalise marijuana.

Earlier this year they helped draw up changes introducing full marijuana legalisation. The bill was put to parliament by the ruling Modern Centre Party (SMC), but the National Assembly was dissolved before the bill could be discussed.

While marijuana legalisation is what has made the Pirates well known in Slovenia, it is not the centrepiece of their manifesto.

Web neutrality and amending the Constitution with the right to internet access are among the key goals for a party which describes itself as a reflection of the Anonymous movement in politics.

The Pirates oppose international trade agreements such as CETA due to their negative effect on food quality and consumer rights.

They also strongly object to the establishment of supranational bodies intended to settle disputes between states and investors, and are just as fervent in their advocacy of freely-accessible knowledge. Among other things, they want to limit the patent rules for the benefit of the people.

Despite the fact that the first Pirate Party was established about 12 years ago, the group is yet to gain substantial ground on the European political scene.

There was a transient period when they had representatives in several legislatures in Europe, but their only significant position now is a single seat in the European Parliament.

The poor 2014 European election result was not due to the lack of trying, as more than half of EU members had pirate parties at that time. The Slovenian Pirates stood with a candidate, but he got only 2.6% of the vote.

Although well below the radar of mainstream media, the Pirates have been quite active, adopting a grassroots approach.

Most recently, they have participated in the Koper-Divača rail expansion referendum on the side of the opponents of the government-sponsored legislation laying down the course of the investment.

The party has also fought against more powers for city parking officers and a plan to impose an internet fee, and advocated marriage equality.

The party refuses to be labelled either left or right, and just like elsewhere in Europe, their position depends on the individual political setting.

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