Skip to main content

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

  • Marie Demker

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.

Hide All

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).

Hide All
Aardal, B. (1994), ‘Hva er en politisk skillelinje?’, Tidsskrift for Samfunnsforskning, 35(2): 218249.
Bartolini, S.Mair, P. (2007), Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability: The Stabilization of European Electorates, 1885–1985 (Colchester: ECPR Classics) (first published 1990).
Bennett, L. (2003), ‘Communicating Global Activism: Strengths and Vulnerabilities of Networked Politics’, Information, Communication & Society, 6(2): 143168.
Berlin, I. (1969), Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Bjereld, U.Demker, M. (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.
—— ——Bjereld, U.Demker, M.(2008), Kampen om kunskapen: Informationssamhällets politiska skiljelinjer (Stockholm: Hjalmarson and Högberg).
—— ——Bjereld, U., Demker, M. (2009), ‘The Transformation of Modern Global Society: Individualism and New Political Cleavages in the Information Age’, paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in New York, 15–18 February 2009.
—— ——Bjereld, U.Demker, M. (2010), ‘Piratpartiet och informationssamhällets politiska skiljelinjer’, in K. Tovhult (ed.), Kunskap, Kommunikation, Kontroll. Drömmar och farhågor i informationssamhället (Creative Commons: Sharing Is Caring Förlag): 102112.
Bjereld, U.Ekengren, A.M.Schierenbeck, I. (2009), ‘Power, Identity, Modernity: Individualisation and Destabilisation in a Globalised World: Introduction’, International Review of Sociology, 19(2): 263272.
Bornschier, S. (2010), ‘The New Cultural Divide and the Two-dimensional Political Space in Western Europe’, West European Politics, 33(3): 419444.
Carpentier, N., Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, P., Nordenstreng, K., Hartmann, M., Vihalem, P., Cammaerts, B., Nieminen, H.Olsson, T. (2008), Democracy, Journalism and Technology: New Developments in an Enlarges Europe, ECREA European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School (Tartu: Tartu University Press).
Castells, M. (1996–8), The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell).
Castells, M. (2009), Communication Power (New York: Oxford University Press).
Dahlberg, S. (2011), ‘Premiär för TV-reklam’, in H. Oscarsson and S. Holmberg (eds), Väljarbeteende i Europaval, Report no. 27 Election Studies (Gothenburg: Statistics Sweden and University of Gothenburg): 191201.
Denver, D. (2000), Elections and Voters in Britain (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
Eriksson, J.Giacomello, G. (2009) (eds), ‘The Forum: Who Controls the Internet? Beyond the Obstinacy or Obsolescence of the State’, International Studies Review, 11: 205230.
Erlingsson, G.Persson, M. (2010), ‘Utmanarna: Uppkomst, idéer och opinion’, Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, 112(2): 229247.
—— ——Erlingsson, G.Persson, M.(2011), ‘Varför Piratpartiet?’, in H. Oscarsson and S. Holmberg (eds), Väljarbeteende i Europaval, Report no. 27 Election Studies (Gothenburg: Statistics Sweden and University of Gothenburg): 139148.
Florida, R. (2002), The Rise of the Creative Class (New York: Basic Books).
Florida, R. (2004), The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent (New York: HarperBusiness).
Foucault, M. (1971), L'ordre de discourse (Paris: Gallimard).
Holmberg, S.Oscarsson, H. (2004), Väljare. Svenskt väljarbeteende under 50 år (Stockholm: Norstedts juridik).
Inglehart, R. (1977), The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles among Western Publics (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Kittilson, M.C.Dalton, R.J. (2008), The Internet and Virtual Civil Society: The New Frontier of Social Capital (Irvine, CA: Center for the Study of Democracy, eScholarship, University of California).
Kriesi, H.P., Grande, E., Lachat, R., Dolezal, M., Bornschier, S.Frey, T. (2006), ‘Globalization and the Transformation of National Political Space: Six European Countries Compared’, European Journal of Political Research, 45(6): 921956.
Lipset, S.M.Rokkan, S. (1967), ‘Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments’, in S.M. Lipset and S. Rokkan (eds), Party Systems and Voter Alignment: Cross-National Perspectives (New York: Free Press): 164.
Mair, P. (2006), ‘Cleavages’, in R.S. Katz and W. Crotty (eds), Handbook of Party Politics (London: Sage): 371375.
Manjikian, M.M. (2010), ‘From Global Village to Virtual Battlespace: The Colonizing of the Internet and the Extension of Realpolitik’, International Studies Quarterly, 54(2): 381401.
Oscarsson, H.Persson, M. (2009), ‘Piratpartiets sympatisörer’, in S. Holmberg and L. Weibull (eds), Svensk Höst, SOM-rapport 46 (Gothenburg: SOM-Institute, University of Gothenburg).
Oscarsson, H.Holmberg, S. (2011) (eds), Väljarbeteende i Europaval, Report no. 27 Swedish European Election Studies (Gothenburg: Statistics Sweden and University of Gothenburg).
Ringmar, E. (2007), A Blogger's Manifesto: Free Speech and Censorship in the Age of the Internet (London: Anthem Press).
Stubager, R. (2008), ‘Education Effects on Authoritarian–Libertarian Values: A Question of Socialization’, British Journal of Sociology, 59(2): 327350.
Stubager, R. (2009), Education-based Group Identity and Consciousness in the Authoritarian–Libertarian Value Conflict’, European Journal of Political Research, 48: 204233.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 51 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 184 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.