I've just had a chat with Chris Edwards for a Guardian piece about the success of the Swedish Pirate Party in the EU parliament elections. I've been off the grid for a couple of weeks so wasn't aware of the news until this morning. I had a relatively wide ranging chat with Chris but a few things initially came to mind when I came across the story.
Firstly the Swedes have recently implemented the EU intellectual property rights enforcement directive, not a particularly popular measure, which coming rapidly in the wake of the Pirate Bay convictions would have helped the Pirate Party's publicity efforts in the run up to the election.
Secondly Sweden has a relatively high proportion of broadband subscribers, a substantial minority of whom may be tuned into the intellectual property debates to a higher degree than elsewhere in the EU. I have no direct evidence of this at the moment - purely speculation on my part.
Thirdly, as far as I can recall, Sweden had an electoral system based on proportional representation, which can make it possible for smaller parties to make an impact and gain seats with as little as 3 or 4% of the vote. Chris tells me they got 7% this time round which is pretty spectacular for a small single issue party.
It would be interesting to get some direct evidence, through interviewing a statistically significant sample of voters who opted for the Pirate Party, to find out the key reasons for that support. It could really significant that 7% of the electorate might actually actively have been prepared to cast their vote based on the state of the IP landscape. Of course it could equally have been a simple protest vote against established parties with the Pirate Party being the one alternative where voters knew what it stood for. Or something more nuanced between the two.