• Germany's news in English
 
Pirate Party fires broadside at German political establishment
Photo: DPA

Pirate Party fires broadside at German political establishment

Published: 28 Sep 2009 15:10 GMT+02:00

Inspired by the original Swedish Piratpartiet, now the northern country’s third-largest political party when it comes to membership, the German outfit was founded in September 2006.

Just three years later, they have apparently gained an impressive foothold among German voters – winning two percent of the vote for Sunday's parliamentary election, according to preliminary results. In several big cities like Berlin, Braunschweig and Nuremberg, the party even exceeded three percent.

How did a rebel political grouping based almost exclusively on information privacy issues, such as maintaining freedom of the internet, make such a big leap in such a short time?

“We have the hard work of our members and lots of exposure due to incidents that highlighted our issues in recent years,” Pirate Party spokesperson Simon Lange told The Local on Monday. “Our rights have been constricted and many people have had experience with this problem – whether it’s with internet blocking or state surveillance and data storage.”

According to the Pirate Party, where the average age among their more than 9,000 members is reportedly just 29-years-old, some 13 percent of the country’s first-time male voters checked the PIRATEN box on their ballots.

“It shows we’re very attractive to young people who not only wanted to fight against the new conservative schwarz-gelb coalition, but feel alienated by the traditional parties,” Lange said.

According to news magazine Der Spiegel, the Pirate Party has the conservative Christian Democratic ministers to thank for its success. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble made many enemies among the internet advocacy set with his surveillance initiatives. Meanwhile Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s attempts to censor internet child pornography with backing from internet service providers earned her the nickname of “Censorsula” among Pirate Party members.

But internet child pornography has already created scandal for the party. In early September state prosecutors filed charges against Jörg Tauss, Germany's only MP at the time for the Pirate Party, on suspicion of possession and distribution of child pornography.

When investigation of Tauss began, the former Social Democrat renounced his party and became a Pirate Party member, saying authorities were confusing his work to fight child pornography with criminal possession.

The case could prove a stumbling block in the party’s goal to reach the five percent of votes necessary to enter parliament in the 2013 election, but so far its leadership seems undaunted.

“He’s a member like any other, and a good one at that with all of his political experience and work to fight child pornography,” Lange told The Local, adding that Tauss would remain in good standing with the party unless he was found guilty by German courts.

Now the party plans to continue fighting for legitimacy and recognition on the political stage, and they already have their eyes on North Rhine-Westphalia’s state elections in 2010, he said.

“I do think that other politicians are taking us seriously,” Lange said. “The Greens and the FDP have already recognised us as worthy opponents.”

Several media reports on Monday compared the new party to the grassroots development of the environmentalist Greens in the 1980s. Now a major opposition party in Germany which gained more than 10 percent of the vote on Sunday, the Pirate Party is pleased with the comparison.

“Developing in that way wouldn’t be bad,” Lange said.

(The sixth place for the Pirate Party counts Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party the CSU as one parliamentary entity despite being two parties.)

Related links:

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany
Joachim Löw holding the World Cup trophy. File photo: DPA

Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany

World Cup winners Germany have suffered something of a hangover since their triumph in Brazil, but coach Joachim Löw is hoping a new-look side can go on to claim more glory at Euro 2016. READ  

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn over US fraud charges
Photo: DPA

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn over US fraud charges

German mobile phone company T-Mobile has agreed to pay at least $90 million to settle US government claims that it bilked customers with bogus charges, US regulators said Friday. READ  

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,228
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd