Updated: Thursday, 24th April 2014 @ 5:52am

Local elections 2012: Pirate Party set sail for three Manchester wards in council vote

Local elections 2012: Pirate Party set sail for three Manchester wards in council vote

By Emily Wilson

Manchester residents will have another box to chose from in the local elections on May 3 as The Pirate Party are standing for the first time in three different wards across Manchester.

The party represent a worldwide movement towards digital rights, freedom of information and civil liberties.

They became the third most popular party in Germany last month after gaining support from young people disillusioned with mainstream parties.

The British strand of the movement are behind the German pirates but are starting to gain in stature. They field candidates in the City Centre, Bradford and Ancoats & Clayton wards.

Musician Loz Kaye, leader of the party, is running for council in Bradford ward. He joined the party due to dissatisfaction with the Digital Economy Act.

“I couldn't just hope a change was going to come, I had to get out there and start doing it,” he said.

“People feel very far away and disengaged from the council, they need a new, more independent voice, someone who is going to represent them.

The Pirate Party want to engage with people using modern technologies.

“We need to ask the right questions, become more independent. We would use social media and other on-line practices to do this,” said Mr Kaye.

“Cuts are happening. We have to be able to think more creatively about the solutions.”

Maria Aretoulaki is the party's candidate in Manchester city centre where she has lived for 11 years of the last 20 having studied a masters and PHD in the city.

She started up her own computational linguistics consultancy company three years ago and is positive about the upcoming election.

“I really think many people are going to vote for us,” she said.

“We are raising our profile and letting people know what we stand for. They ask us for further literature and are interested in us.”

With the rise of the pirates in Germany the party is becoming more recognisable. But Dr Aretoulaki claims the British strand of the movement is different.

The party wants to listen to the public before creating policies and are open to fresh ideas about how to run the council.

“We went out and spoke to Manchester people about what they wanted, using only the bias of freedom and transparency to make meaningful policies for all areas of life,” said Dr Aretoulaki.

"We want to customise the movement to suit this area's needs."

Manchester's local election turnout was 28% in 2008, with most wards attracting less than 25% of the electorate.

Dr Aretoulaki claims Manchester people are disinterested in voting because they believe it to be a foregone conclusion that labour or the liberal democrats will win.

The party's 'Make it More Than One in Four' campaign is aimed at increasing voter participation.

While Mr Kaye hopes to increase awareness of the pirate party, he is realistic about their chances.

“The best possible result for us is that we increase the total number votes, not necessarily for our party. More people need to stand up and be counted,” he said.

“But you have to start somewhere and we are offering people a different choice.”

For further information visit: http://manchester.pirateparty.org.uk/