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Pirates face 200 motions at party conference

The Pirate Party is trying to figure out its future course after stunning victories in recent months have created a lot of political discussion - and criticism - about the political newcomers.

Pirates face 200 motions at party conference
Photo: DPA

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.

DAPD/The Local/mw

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POLITICS

Civil servants ‘getting burnout’ over energy crisis, says German minister

Public sector workers trying to tackle Germany's ongoing energy crisis are suffering from illness and burnout, Economics Minister Robert Habeck has said.

Civil servants 'getting burnout' over energy crisis, says German minister

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has unleashed economic turmoil in Europe, placing Germany’s new coalition government under pressure to firefight multiple crises.

Perhaps the largest of these is the energy crisis, which has prompted fears of gas shortages in the winter months and seen prices for fossil fuels soar for both households and businesses.

According to Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, the staff at his ministry – who are charged with tackling the energy crisis – are struggling to cope with the extraordinary pressure that they have been under in recent months. 

“People, at some point they have to sleep and eat too,” the Green politician said at a congress of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) in Berlin. “It’s not bullshit I’m talking now: people get sick. They have burnout, they get tinnitus. They can’t take it anymore.”

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In the last nine months alone, the Economics Ministry has produced 20 laws and 28 ordinances, Habeck revealed. He said this was likely more than the ministry produced over the entirety of the previous four-year legislature. 

Highlighting the strain that his staff were under, Habeck explained that it was always the same people in charge in drafting new laws in the battle to secure the energy supply.

To say that the Tourism Ministry could help restructure the electricity market would be like “telling the artist who made the sculptures that he can be the president of the Federation of German Industries,” the Green politician added. 

Batting off criticism that the ministry had occasionally been slow to act, Habeck said: “Of course you could say, ‘why didn’t you do the regulation a week earlier’. But it’s not because people are sleeping, it’s because there is a limit to their physical capacity.”

Gas levy criticism 

Germany has had to cope with an ever intensifying energy emergency over the past few months, culminating in Russia reducing supplies and then turning off gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline entirely in September. 

Most recently, the government took steps to nationalise its largest gas supplier – Uniper – in a move to prevent the collapse of the country’s energy infrastructure. Uniper has suffered losses of billions of euros this year due to the costs involved in replacing cheap Russian gas supplies at short notice. 

Habeck, who has appeared increasingly world-weary and exhausted in recent months, has faced sharp criticism for a number of decisions made during the crisis. 

Most controversially, his decision to implement a gas levy to bail out major energy companies has been met with consternation from both the opposition and the Greens’ coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD). 

On Friday, SPD leader Lars Klingbeil reiterated concerns about the fairness of the gas levy at a time when many are struggling to pay their energy bills.

SPD leader Lars Klingbeil

SPD leader Lars Klingbeil speaks to the press during the ARD Summer Interview in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

In a situation where the government is facing multiple decisions in a short space of time, ministers also require the strength to “reconsider and correct their path”, Klingbeil told RND.

“(The gas levy) is about supporting the gas supply infrastructure,” he added. “However, this must be done fairly.”

In spite of the nationalisation of Uniper, Habeck has confirmed that the gas levy – which adds 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour of energy onto gas bills – will still be introduced on October 1st.

However, on Thursday he announced that there would be changes to Energy Security Act to ensure that only companies who needed the bailout would benefit from the levy.

According to the ministry, the changes are set to be passed by the cabinet on September 28th.

READ ALSO: Germany to push ahead with gas levy plans

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