Piratpartiets campaign was really "think globally, act locally". It was not one campaign but lots of local campaigns. We did raise some funds during the spring, around 130 000 kronor (14 500 euros, 18 500 USD) but we spent it all on ballots.
You can not win an election without them, so we got 3 million ballots.
So how to make an election campaign without money? Well, everybody has some money or some time to donate. We completed pamphlets and shared posters in our forum, then printed for low costs in xerox-machines or sympathetic local copyshops. And then it was just posting the posters and handing out the flyers.
Or just. It is a lot of work and a a lot of organising. But it was fun.
Very soon must of us campaigners discovered that we got much better response in youngish groups, so computer festivals and music festivals became targeted events. I have no idea how many flyers I handed out myself. Probably over a thousand. And I do not think I ever felt this hip and popular among teenagers, if fifteen year olds could vote, it would be a slam dunk. We got help with handing out flyers (and since we realised they might 'help' the flyers to the nearest trash-can we kept an eye on them and in ever single instance they did hand them out), as well as more personal appreciation in the form of candy, pancakes (!) cold beer (they would vote for us to) and home-made wine (I do not think they were old enough to vote).
Ah, the fervor of campaigning.
Of course, we dominated the web. If their was an appropriate article to comment, it was linked in our forum and a lot of polite, wellformulated comments from members of the party, clearly identified with name, sometimes titel and always the party name. In webbased polls, we always won. Sometimes we even got some off-line results like when a local tv-station had a poll for which new party should be given some time for presentation.
In august we helped Labs2 launching a on-line privacy servise called Relakks. Or they helped us get a lot of attention (the link brings you to the alexa graph). This was very efficient in showing that either file-sharing gets legal or internet traffic will become untraceable in the long run. Unfortunately most of the publicity was outside Sweden. Piratpartiet also gets a percentage of the revenue Relakks brings in. This allowed for some nicer folders the last weeks, they even had color!
Check out that Alexa graph, blue is Piratpartiet. The spike in June is when Pirate Bay was closed and the one in august is Relakks. As comparision Daily Kos in red is shown. The green mold in the bottom is the site of the largest political party in Sweden, Socialdemokraterna.
Eventually media picked up, and we got LTEs published, interviews in papers and even some tv-time. But we never got in the real debates. Neither did any other party that did not already have seats.
Extrapolating our total monetary campaign budget from what I know, I would say somewhere around 500 000 kronor (55 000 euros, 70 000 dollars). Donated time is not included. This of course was much less then even other new parties.
Feministiskt initiativ spent around 2 million kronor (according to their website) and Sverigedemokraterna around 10 million. And if you look at the established parties they spent a lot more.
Alas we got nowhere near the 30 votes/member that we had counted with. Perhaps there is more to election results then having members. We got 34 918 votes or 0,63%. To enter parliament we would have needed 4%.
However, we were efficient in money spent/vote. Feministiskt initiativ that spent 4 times as much got 37 954 votes or 0,68% and they have got Gudrun Schyman, one of the most skilled politicians in Sweden, as a figure head. Sverigedemokraterna got 162 463 votes or 2,93%.
We have pretty even support in the country, though pollstations in student areas reported our best results.
At the days prior to the election a mock election was held in schools. The rules not being subject to any election law, some schools decided that only votes for parties already in parliament were acceptable. This was probably to stop students from voting for Sverigedemokraterna. The schools wanted to avoid it showing how rascist students they got. Way to teach democracy! Anyway a lot of ardent supporters of ours made sure they could vote and indeed they did.
Piratpartiet received 4,5% thus beating not only the limit but also Sverigedemokraterna (4,2%) and Kristdemokraterna (who were in the parliament and now even in the government).
If I look back a year and compare the position on our issues, we have got some successes:
We changed the discourse to be about "filesharing" instead of "downloading", so now both up and downloading are discussed for leaglisation at the same time. We changed the public discourse in media from "the youngsters need to learn to obey the law!" to "this is a problem that must be solved, the current laws are unsustainable".
So that is a huge success.
The political parties also changed positions. The greens that had been pro downloading only released a new manifest with a de-facto legalisation of uploading. They also made it a campaign issue. In one of the final debates between the two candidates for prime minister Göran Persson and Fredrik Reinfeldt they were asked if filesharing should be legalised and both essentially answered that it should. Now getting results after the election is harder, but we never expected anything else.
We did not get as much traction on this question, but we did raise status of the question and several newspapers has changed their position to a clear "against". Probably very important effect in the long run.
Not much traction here.
Impact on other parties election results
If you run a splinter party there is always the question if you will just bring down the parties that are closest to your positions. Miljöpartiet (the environmentalist party, the greens) and Centerpartiet (traditionally the party of farmers and other rural population (also green as party color)) would be the ones bearing such an effect in that case. But both of them gained votes and seats. Miljöpartiet advanced though the left bloc lost and actually made their best election ever. So if we had an impact it would be to gain those parties more votes as we were quite open with them being the next best thing.
So the election is over and a lot of steam has gone out of the pirate machine.
So where do we go from here?
We will pretty soon found over youth organisation. Why a youth organisation considering how young the average age is in the party? Well see, youth organisations get governmental funding, and gets it in proportion to the amount of members. If we just move everyone under 25 from the mother party to the youth organisation it becomes the fourth largest political youth organisation in Sweden and would get something around 2 million kronor/year. Compare that to what we spent this election year...
Popular education ("Folkbildning")
In Sweden you get money from the state for learning stuff. If you organise your activities as study sessions you can as an organisation rake in some sweet money (this is no secret, this is how a lot of organisations get some of their financing). It is also a good way of reaching more people. We should get a course "Filesharing for beginner" going next year in different places.
European Parliament elections 2009
We have probably a better chance in the EP elections as fewer vote, and those voting are not as rigidly tied to right or left blocs. In practice we need to get around 5% to get one seat of Swedens 20.
Hopefully we will have a common Pirate Party running in a lot of countries (seperate organisations but common platform). Because it would be nice to have a Pirate party group in the EP.
Does your country have a Pirate Party yet?
Swedish parliament elections 2010
Better prepared, actually having a treasure chest with fighting money we will get into parliament. Anyway that is the plan.
Previous articles on Piratpartiet (by me, on ET):
The Pirates of Sweden (7th of March 2006)
Newsalert - The Pirate Bay has been raided by police (31:st of May 2006)
The Pirate Bay is back up and demonstrations in Sweden (3:rd of June 2006)