Iceland’s Radical Pirate Party Falls Short in Parliamentary Election

Icelanders opted for continuity over radical change in the country's parliamentary election this weekend, with the anti-establishment Pirate Party winning less support than predicted.

Formed just four years ago, the party had polled between 18 and 30 percent in the six months leading up to the contest.

Image:  Birgitta Jonsdottir and other Pirate Party activists
Birgitta Jonsdottir, the co-founder of Iceland's Pirate Party, is joined by fellow activists as election results in Reykjavik. HALLDOR KOLBEINS / AFP - Getty Images

The country's electoral system means it is near-impossible for any one party to win a majority. But these figures would have put the Pirate Party in a prime position to form a coalition with the country's left-wing and environmentalist green parties.

Instead, the Pirates won around 14.5 percent of the vote, according to the results announced Sunday.

While this took their number of lawmakers from three to ten, it meant that the predicted left-wing alliance doesn't have enough members of parliament to form a majority government.

The Pirates had pledged to legalize drugs, decide policy using online referendum and grant citizenship to Edward Snowden.

Their support largely stemmed from a country whose successive governments had overseen the economic banking crisis of 2008 and become embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal in April.

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Despite the external polls overstating her party's support, the Pirate Party's leader Birgitta Jonsdottir remained upbeat.

"Our internal predictions showed 10 to 15 percent, so this is at the top of the range," she told Reuters. "We knew that we would never get 30 percent."

The Pirates said they could attempt to form a five-party coalition government during the days of horse-trading and deal-making that will now follow. In the driver's seat, however, is the right-of-center Independence Party, which won the most votes with 29 percent of public support.