• Germany edition
 
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
Updated: 28 Sep 2009 15:10 GMT+02:00

While it didn’t get enough votes to enter parliament, one of Germany's newest parties, the swashbuckling Pirate Party, took a surprising sixth place in the national election on Sunday.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Minister praises Erasmus 'success story'
Photo: DPA

Minister praises Erasmus 'success story'

A revamped version of European student exchange programme Erasmus officially launched in Berlin on Thursday with Germany's education minister praising the scheme as a Europe-wide “success story”. READ () »

Turkey tourists lose call to prayer refund bid
Photo: DPA

Turkey tourists lose call to prayer refund bid

A German couple has lost their legal fight to get a refund for a Turkish holiday which they said was ruined by the calls to prayer from a nearby mosque. It is just one of a series of court claims by picky German tourists. READ () »

Germany halts arms sales to Russia
Russian troops surround a Ukrainian base in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany halts arms sales to Russia

Germany has stopped selling arms to Russia due to the current “political situation”, according to reports on Thursday. The sale of military equipment to Russia by German firms has been criticized by the country’s Nato allies. READ () »

Truck kills man lying in middle of road
Photo: DPA

Truck kills man lying in middle of road

Police were searching for witnesses on Wednesday morning following a mysterious road accident in which a 25-year-old man was killed as he lay in the middle of the road. READ () »

Ecclestone bribery trial kicks off in Munich
Bernie Ecclestone in court in Munich on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

Ecclestone bribery trial kicks off in Munich

UPDATE: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in Munich on Thursday facing bribery charges in a case which threatens his nearly 40-year-reign of the motor sport. READ () »

Where are Germany's smartest towns?
Germany's cleverest town. Photo: DPA

Where are Germany's smartest towns?

A brain training website released scores on Wednesday showing which German towns performed best and worst in a range of cognitive tests - with some surprising results. READ () »

April wraps up with stormy week ahead
Lightning over Lake Starnberg, in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

April wraps up with stormy week ahead

The end of April is looking stormy for Germany with hot and cold air mixing and making for wild spring weather over the coming few days, state forecasters DWD said on Wednesday. READ () »

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia
Russian troops pictured in March in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia

Germany arms sales to Russia have come under fire following the crisis in Ukraine. In 2012 Germany sold €40 million worth of rifles, pistols and armoured vehicles to the country. READ () »

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel
Photo: Nieto Sobejano Architects, Berlin

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel

Munich's old city centre is to receive an ultra modern addition to its skyline in the shape of a new hotel dubbed 'the Tetris cube'. READ () »

The Local List
German beer culture in 11 gulps
Photo: DPA

German beer culture in 11 gulps

Wednesday marks the 498th anniversary of Germany's celebrated beer purity law, so in honour of nearly half a millennium of hoppy history, this week's Local List tells some beer truths you may not know. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
11 things you need to know about German beer
Photo: DPA
Politics
Interview with AfD - 'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Photo: DPA
National
Police damage own water cannon with eggs
Photo: DPA
National
Let us start work later after World Cup nights, unions says
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Advertisement:
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

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

3,069
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd