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Pirate leader says Twitter bitching divisive

The leader of Germany’s latest political sensation, the Pirate party, has told members to stop airing their differences on Twitter, saying public arguments are divisive.

Pirate leader says Twitter bitching divisive
Photo: DPA

Sebastian Nerz, the Pirates’ national chairman, criticized his party for its habit of bickering openly on the Internet, pleading with members to develop a new style of doing politics and to stop arguing over the social media service Twitter.

“Insults in 140 characters are not transparency. You can’t resolve a dispute over Twitter or Facebook, you only escalate them,” Nerz said.

“The first successes are also the time of the first mistakes – and these mistakes could split the party,” he said.

He was addressing the Pirates’ first party conference since their unexpectedly strong performance in the Berlin state election in September.

On Saturday 1,250 members gathered in the city of Offenbach for the conference, as the party faced the challenge of building on their success in the capital, in which it won an unprecedented 8.9 percent of the vote.

“We have left behind an eventful and tough period, and we face an even more difficult one,” Nerz told the assembled pirates at the opening of the conference.

Christoph Lauer, one of the 14 Pirates elected to the Berlin state parliament in September, said he didn’t see any danger of divisions. “The fact that 1,200 people have come together here alone shows that we have an active and lively discussion culture,” he told the DPA news agency.

In his speech Nerz also criticized the German government, accusing it of pushing a process of de-democratization in its handling of the euro crisis.

When the Pirates first formed a party in 2006, their focus was on Internet issues and digital rights. They have since widened their programme to include a variety of issues, including citizen rights and more transparency in politics. However, the party has been accused of not having policies on many issues, including foreign policy and the economy.

Over the course of the two-day gathering, members are expected to expand the party programme to include more economic and social policies. One of the more controversial issues is the proposal to introduce a basic minimum income for all citizens.

The party has seen its membership soar since the Berlin elections on September 18 to almost 19,000. Every member is entitled to attend the conference as the party rejects the idea of delegates.

Opinion polls indicate that the Pirate Party currently attracts around 7 percent support across Germany, which would be enough to allow it to enter the federal parliament should this popularity be reflected in votes at the 2013 general election.

DPA/DPAD/The Local/smd

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POLITICS

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP

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