Anti-establishment Pirates in tight race to win Icelandic election: polls

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland's anti-establishment Pirate Party is in a tight race to become the largest party in parliament after an election on Saturday called when the prime minister resigned as a result of the Panama Papers scandal. The Pirates have been riding a wave of anger against the establishment in a country that was one of the hardest hit in the 2008 financial crisis when its banking system collapsed, hitting thousands of savers. Polls put it in close second place to the Independence Party, currently the junior partner in the governing coalition. It wants, among other things, to give asylum to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, accept the bitcoin virtual currency and clean up corruption. The Pirates - founded less than four years ago as a protest movement against global copyright laws, and whose election campaign is partly crowdfunded - have 21 percent in a Morgunbladid poll published on Friday. The Independence Party polled 22.5 percent. The governing coalition's senior partner, the Progressive Party, polled only 10 percent. It was hurt badly when Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned as prime minister in April after documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm linked him to an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks. Other recent polls show a similar pattern, with some giving the Independence Party a bigger lead. Another poll published on Friday by research company MMR showed the Independence Party had 25 percent support with the Pirates at 20.5 percent. The Pirates would look to form a majority with the current opposition parties - the Left-Green Movement, the Social Democratic Alliance and Bright Future. (Reporting by Zoe Robert in Reykjavik and Daniel Dickson in Stockholm)

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