Amelia Andersdotter: Pirate and youngest EU Parliamentarian

Article published on March 23, 2014
Article published on March 23, 2014

She's the youngest delegate in the European Parliament. Sometimes she asks herself why she's even there. The Swedish delegate Amelia Andersdotter, who represents the Pirate Party, is back up for election. We talk about binge drinking, the European parliament and elections.

Amelia An­der­s­dot­ter car­ries a bright green back­pack and looks around. She seems re­lieved as we shake hands. The youngest del­e­gate of the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment isn't in Paris that often. While walk­ing to the café she tells me about a cyber se­cu­rity con­fer­ence that she'll be at­tend­ing the next day. But she doesn't know ex­actly what will be cov­ered. To her the con­fer­ence seems to be a lit­tle bit of a ghost hunt. She asks me whether I'm afraid of ghosts, to which I don't find an im­me­di­ate and fit­ting re­sponse. We both re­main silent for a bit.

Shortly be­fore her entry into the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment

She or­ders chips and a fra­grant tea. We sit at the edge of a patio filled with young peo­ple and well-dressed Parisians. Some sit alone in front of their mac­books, while oth­ers write in their mole­skin note­books. Bearded men check out women with their light, flow­ing spring­time dresses. The sun's still up and shin­ing a bit. Ame­lia be­gins to fran­ti­cally eat her chips.

Oth­ers Drink, she pol­i­tics

Is her na­tive coun­try Swe­den re­ally as ro­man­tic as it's made out to be? She looks up with a se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion. She was raised in a small vil­lage where Swedish fam­i­lies like to see their chil­dren grow up on the pe­riph­ery of major cities. Amalia says that they feel re­served about Swe­den: "Per­son­ally I think I fit well in that cat­e­gory." She says this with­out ex­pec­ta­tion of dis­sent from me. When she moved near Stock­holm for her stud­ies, she didn't have the im­pulse to drink like all the other young Swedes her age. Young Swedes loved to binge drink, she says. That was the be­gin­ning of her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer; while most of the other stu­dents lay drunk in a cor­ner, she was busy dis­cussing pol­i­tics with her friends. "I found my po­lit­i­cal ideas at the bot­tom of my cof­fee cup." It may sound like the marks of an in­sider, but she says it with adamant sin­cer­ity.

I ask her why she wants to be elected back into the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment. She turns up the cor­ners of her mouth and stares into the cloud­less Parisian twi­light, hold­ing her back­pack close-by. "It's dif­fi­cult to say some­times. Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions are like an over­weight whale that only turns slowly." I want to know how re­al­is­tic she thinks it is for the whale to even­tu­ally turn it­self: "Flies would be sim­plier; they im­me­di­ately change di­rec­tion." She demon­strates the tra­jec­tory of a fly with her hands. Maybe she's mak­ing fun of me, maybe she wants me to laugh about it-- but I'm not quite sure which.

Her work in the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment spurs her anger about the many things that don't make sense. She gives an ex­am­ple: re­cently she lis­tened to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the cable in­dus­try who said the exact same thing as one of her col­leagues in par­lia­ment a cou­ple of days be­fore. Be­cause many mem­bers of par­lia­ment don't know how to deal with the con­stant lob­by­ing, they tell the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of in­ter­est groups what they want to hear. Her scathing ver­dict: many mem­bers of par­li­ament--like her col­league who re­it­er­ated the words of the cable in­dus­try--lack the morals and val­ues to re­sist lobby in­ter­ests. That's why she's begun to eval­u­ate who they're ac­tu­ally rep­re­sent­ing. Ac­cord­ing to her, it's a sick­ness that's got­ten hold of Brus­sels. 

Pi­rated!

Amelia didn't make me any­more con­fi­dent in Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions, but rather made them seem like mon­sters from which one should keep a dis­tance. I couldn't help but pic­ture an array of MEPs, whose ideas were being swal­lowed up by a whale and whose opin­ions were being screwed to un­rec­og­niz­abil­ity by lob­by­ists. Is Eu­rope truly so fright­en­ing?

On the con­trary, says Amelia: Eu­rope has to watch out for their con­tin­u­ing sup­port of open ex­change within the con­ti­nent. Tra­di­tion­ally, Eu­rope has only been as suc­cess­ful as it has, in the sci­ences and the arts, be­cause Eu­ro­peans have pi­rated from each other. Par­lia­ment has to as­sure that peo­ple have the free­dom to bor­row from each other. We used to live in a time where we make friends based on mu­tual ex­pe­ri­ences rather than ge­o­graph­i­cal prox­im­ity. 

In the end we shake hands. This time she bows slightly. Then she hur­ries to the exit with her green back­pack. There's a lot left to do be­fore the palia­men­tary elec­tions.