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Pirate Party Triples Seats In Iceland's Parliament

Iceland's progressive party collapsed after the county's Oct. 29 election gave the anti-establishment Pirate Party -- along with its allies -- a near majority in Parliament. The Icelandic prime minister, a member of the progressive party, announced he would resign upon hearing the news.

The Pirate Party formed four years ago, according to Time, after the collapse of Iceland's banking industry. The party, led by WikiLeaks activist and self-proclaimed "poetician" Birgitta Jonsdottir, was created to fight perceived corruption within the political elite. Jonsdottir calls the Pirates the "Robin Hood" party and wants to give power back to the people, encouraging hackers to release confidential political information they find in the name of transparency. 

"Many people in Iceland woke up when this big earthquake hit us and we felt that everything we had put our trust in had failed us," she told The Washington Post. "Not only the banking sector. The politicians, the academia, the media, the supervisory institutions. So it meant that many people felt that they needed to do something."

The party is also responsible for creating the first "crowd-sourced" constitution, according to The New York Times, which was drafted completely by Icelandic civilians rather than politicians. The document was brought to Parliament in 2013 but blocked. 

Often seen as a fringe political group, the Pirates shocked the nation by tripling its seats in the 63-seat Parliament. It tied with their political ally, the Left-Greens, for second place, and each party will receive 10 seats each. The ruling progressive party lost more than half of its seats, according to BBC, leading progressive Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson to resign.

Opponents of the progressive-left coalition worry that the Pirates have no political experience and their anti-bank sentiment could scare investors and even destabilize the country's economy.

"The traditional party system has been disrupted,” said political consultant Andres Jonsson to The New York Times. "We are not seeing big movements of people who feel that they are able to relate with the messages of the big coalition parties. Changes are going to come from the outside, not from inside the old parties.

On the night of the election, Jonsdottir spoke to a rowdy crowd, saying that huge changes are coming to the Icelandic political system. 

"Whatever happens, we have created a wave of change in the Icelandic society."

Sources: BBC, Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times / Photo credit: Paladin Justice/Flickr

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