Iceland's newest political party — the Pirate Party — is proof that peaceful political revolutions might just be possible.

On Oct. 29, 2016, Iceland held a historic parliamentary election, and the results were pretty indicative of the political turmoil rocking Iceland right now. The ruling Progressive Party lost more than half of its seats in the election, which was sparked by anti-government protests earlier this year after Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned for being implicated in the Panama Papers.

Former Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson. Photo by Halldoor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images.


After so much government corruption was exposed, Iceland's citizens were understandably angry. They yearned for a new type of politician.

That's when the music swelled, the winds changed, and some swashbuckling pirates came swooping in. OK, not those kinds of pirates, but they did have a black flag.

He kind of looks like a pirate, right? Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images.

The Pirate Party is a group of political activists who are turning Iceland's anger and distrust of the government into real political change.

The party's humble origin stems from Sweden, where it was originally established to protest Swedish file-sharing and copyright laws. The name of the party comes from a Swedish torrenting site called "The Pirate Bay," where people could illegally download movies, music, and a host of other files they might want to get their hands on.

The Pirate Party exists officially in over 60 countries with dozens elected to government positions. As of Iceland's October election, the Pirate Party holds 10 out of 63 seats in Iceland's parliament. The other big winner of the election was women — who won a record 30 parliament seats (more than any single party).

The Pirate Party is being called radical, but really they're just frustrated voters who wanted to see some change in their political system.

The group is a legitimate political party with candidates running for (and winning) real elections around the world with platforms of government transparency and increased participation in democracy.

In Iceland, they also want to end the war on drugs, put more gender identity options on government documents, cut the gender pay gap, and increase privacy.

The pirates are young, new, and here to disrupt the system, but they're not interested in mask-wearing Mr. Robot-style hacktivism. The pirates have decided that the best way to change a system they don't like is by getting involved in it.

Their approach to politics is, well, political. There's a system in place, and the Pirate Party has chosen to work within it instead of yelling at it.

The Panama Papers, more than anything, created anger and distrust in Iceland. We've seen similar feelings in the United States this year, along with a rise of non-business-as-usual candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

There are a lot of Americans who feel disenfranchised, misled, and cheated by their government. Just like people in Iceland, Americans are angry and yearn for sweeping change.

The Pirates are taking that anger and using it as motivation for a real grassroots political revolution. They're not trying to elect a radical leader who will change everything for them; they're building their own political party based on their interests from the ground up.

Iceland Pirate Party founder Birgitta Jónsdóttir and fellow activists reacting to the election results. Photo by Halldoor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images.

Political revolution doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen with a single election. It's a slow, steady climb.

Whether the Pirate Party can accomplish everything it wants remains to be seen, but its growing success is a reminder that our hunger to change everything can be used to work with the system instead of just being aimlessly angry about it or seeking to burn the whole thing to the ground to start over. Democracy tends to work best when we're all active, motivated, and participating.

As Margaret Mead famously said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

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My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

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