Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Ducking the issue

Last night was the first candidates debate on SVT Agenda - a chance for the party leaders to trade blows on the issues in advance of the EU election. I didn't see it but by all accounts (and disregarding what was said) it was a strange affair.

Even before it went on air Piratpartiet were vocally decrying that they had no invite... This despite now being the third largest party - in terms of membership - and having had several poll results showing they have enough support to get a seat. Not only that but privacy, personal integrity and state intervention in the internet have been big news for the last year - and all have a European dimension.

It could be deliberate attempt to deny the Pirates a voice - but it smacks a little of stage management since the debate didn't in fact focus on EU issues at all ...something that ststsministern Fredrik Reinfeldt was none too pleaased of either.

The issues that the Pirate party campaign on - personal integrity, copyright and patent reform are important enough for the electorate to win them 5% of voter support on just that issue. Many other voters must think it important too but will choose to vote for a party that has a broader platform that they campaign on. A not insignificant slice of the electorate then...

Piratpartiet has the country's biggest youth party - bigger than any other two put together and draws disproportionate support among the young - which includes first time voters in this election - so excluding PP is in a sense alienating young voters at a time when people complain of voter apathy.

Political parties are a bit like banks... We pick one and stick with it.... so it is bad news for the established parties to duck the debate with Piratpartiet. ..and surprising for the programmers as well to miss the chance to have them there. Having PP on the show would sharpen the debate - and give parties a chance to show whether Piratpartiens abstinence on other issues was significant or not...

So, by my reckoning, the pirates missed out, the other parties missed out, and the voters missed out. So who was it for...??? And why run a debate on domestic politics when we are about to vote on representation in Europe?!?

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