Some 1,500 members gathered in Neumünster for a two-day party conference Saturday, in which the outgoing leader, Marina Weisband, told fellow party members that they bear an “unbelievable responsibility” to change society.
The comments come just days after Martin Delius, parliamentary manager of the Pirates in the Berlin state government, told Der Spiegel magazine that the party’s rise was “as fast as” that of the Nazi party in the 1930s.
The 27-year old apologized and said he would not longer stand for election to lead the party nationally.
The weekend conference has some 200 motions to deal with, including basic questions dealing with the direction of the party, which was founded in 2006.
Party members voted to elect its national leaders on a yearly basis when a suggestion for elections every two years was rejected.
Recent polls show the Pirates gaining 13 percent of the vote nationwide, and they are expected to perform strongly the upcoming state elections in Schleswig-Holstein on May 6 and North Rhine-Westphalia on May 13.
Ruling coalition parties have avoided criticising the Pirates, seemingly unsure how seriously to take them. Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union described the Pirates as “an interesting occurance” and told the Leipziger Volkszeitung that the party “makes the political spectrum more multifaceted.”
Germany’s Health Minister and Free Democratic Party member Daniel Bahr said his party should set the example when it comes to transparency and dialogue about the internet – two key Pirate party themes.
“We can cut a slice from the Pirates’” program, the minister said.
The opposition Social Democratic Party parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann called the Pirates the “new, better liberals.” He told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that the Pirates might be able to keep the FDP and the Left party out of the state parliaments in both upcoming regional elections.