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Sailing Along New Cleavages: Understanding the Electoral Success of the Swedish Pirate Party in the European Parliament Election 20091


In the Swedish European Parliamentary Election in 2009 the Swedish Pirate Party took two seats in the parliament and 7.1 per cent of the Swedish voters’ support. The party was absolutely new and the usual concept of populist parties does not seem to fit the Pirate movement very well. It is anti-authoritarian and aims to enhance civic liberties for youngsters, to give open access to culture through the internet and to improve personal integrity and human dignity on the World Wide Web. Transnationalism is one foundation for the party but another is a value foundation of universal human rights and individual freedom, disregarding national borders. This article is an investigation of the Pirate Party as a possible new party family, driven by new sociopolitical cleavages in the modern information society.

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Marie Demker is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg. Contact email:

A Swedish version of this paper was published in Oscarsson and Holmberg (2011).

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

L. Bennett (2003), ‘Communicating Global Activism: Strengths and Vulnerabilities of Networked Politics’, Information, Communication & Society, 6(2): 143168.

U. Bjereld M. Demker (2006), ‘The Power of Knowledge and New Political Cleavages in a Globalized World: An Empirical Study of the “Free Logotypes”’, International Review of Sociology, 16(3): 499515.

U. Bjereld A.M. Ekengren I. Schierenbeck (2009), ‘Power, Identity, Modernity: Individualisation and Destabilisation in a Globalised World: Introduction’, International Review of Sociology, 19(2): 263272.

S. Bornschier (2010), ‘The New Cultural Divide and the Two-dimensional Political Space in Western Europe’, West European Politics, 33(3): 419444.

J. Eriksson G. Giacomello (2009) (eds), ‘The Forum: Who Controls the Internet? Beyond the Obstinacy or Obsolescence of the State’, International Studies Review, 11: 205230.

H.P. Kriesi , E. Grande , R. Lachat , M. Dolezal , S. Bornschier T. Frey (2006), ‘Globalization and the Transformation of National Political Space: Six European Countries Compared’, European Journal of Political Research, 45(6): 921956.

P. Mair (2006), ‘Cleavages’, in R.S. Katz and W. Crotty (eds), Handbook of Party Politics (London: Sage): 371375.

M.M. Manjikian (2010), ‘From Global Village to Virtual Battlespace: The Colonizing of the Internet and the Extension of Realpolitik’, International Studies Quarterly, 54(2): 381401.

R. Stubager (2008), ‘Education Effects on Authoritarian–Libertarian Values: A Question of Socialization’, British Journal of Sociology, 59(2): 327350.

R. Stubager (2009), Education-based Group Identity and Consciousness in the Authoritarian–Libertarian Value Conflict’, European Journal of Political Research, 48: 204233.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
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