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GERMAN ELECTION 2013

POLITICS

Punks and pirates: the oddest political parties

The German election campaign has been accused of being dull and out-of-touch. To rectify that The Local has travelled a step or two beyond the mainstream.

Punks and pirates: the oddest political parties
Photo: DPA

On the very edges of the country’s political spectrum we have found some political alternatives off-the-beaten-track. From the unorthodox to the bizarre and the dangerous, here are a few of Germany’s strangest parties.

APPD – The Anarchist Pogo Party of Germany

The APPD was formed in Hannover in 1981 by a group of punks – the name comes from the punk dance the pogo – with a manifesto of radical changes for Germany.

The party campaigns for the right to unemployment with full salary, the breaking up of Germany into small states, and the total transformation of society aimed at rescuing people from “disease-causing civilizing pressures”.

Among the pogo-anarchists’ most controversial ideas is their plan for a secure “violence-allowed park” in which “criminals, Nazis, rapists and psychopaths” would be allowed free reign.

Their materials often feature a picture of a gorilla or ape, referring to their key policy of the “stultification” of mankind.

The APPD argues people should revert to the human “primal state”, eschewing such modern trappings as social media, compulsory education and policing.

The APPD also ape far-right parties’ talk of restoring Germany’s “true” borders by advocating a return to how Germany’s borders stood in 1237- at the height of the Holy Roman Empire.

Die PARTEI – Party for Work, Rule of Law, Protection of Animals, Advancement of Elites and Grassroots democratic initiative

Die PARTEI was formed in 2004, the brainchild of Martin Sonneborn and his colleagues at the German satirical magazine Titanic. The party’s name is a play on words, since the German for “Party” is Partei, and their manifesto is just as tongue-in-cheek.

Key policies include building a wall around Germany to protect against globalization, restricting managers’ wages to a mere 25,000 times that of their employees, banning all pub crawls, and commissioning scientists to cross the German tax system with string theory to make it more complicated.

They also plan a Faulenquote (Quota for lazy people) in government, a pun referencing the ongoing discussion about a possible Frauenquote (Quota for women).

The PARTEI attracted attention recently with a public protest against allowing tourists into the country – satirizing the views of far-right groups on immigration and terrorism.

Die Piraten- The Pirate Party

They have become well-established in Berlin, but to outsiders the idea of a Pirate Party remains bizarre. Bernd Schlömer’s party is the German department of an international political movement centred on a campaign for freedom of the internet.

Die Piraten have been called a single issue party, since their core values are all built around the idea of a growing “digital society” and policies securing freedom of information, anonymity and protection of personal data on the internet.

This focus has also become a point of satire, with opponents homing in on the Pirates’ call to legalize free software downloads and file sharing, branding them computer nerds.

More recently, though, they have developed a wider set of liberal-progressive social policies such as campaigning for separation of church and state and a rethink of Germany’s drug laws.

They have also attracted attention for their open method of developing policies. Users on their online discussion platform, Liquid Feedback, can submit ideas, and if they get support from ten per cent or more of the site’s users, the party members will vote on adopting it as policy.

While still a very minor party in electoral terms, the Pirates have gained some support and momentum in recent months, however many of their more wide-ranging policies have been criticized as populist, vague and unrealistic – for example their call for free public transport.

NEIN! – The “NO” Party

The idea of Jens Martinek’s ‘NO’ Party is essentially what it says on the tin. They reject the current system and mainstream parties. Their only policy is giving voters the right to vote negatively (in addition to normal voting or spoiling their ballot).

They believe this will allow voters to send a stronger message to politicians, not just abstaining but actively voting against all candidates. It’s not clear, however, how they plan to implement this option in the German electoral system.

As a small, single-issue group, the ‘NO’ Party is a long way from gaining any electoral success. But cashing in on the current anti-political sentiment could ironically win them votes from Germans who feel the mainstream parties have betrayed them and make decisions over their heads.

Bergpartei/Überpartei – Mountain Party

Collectively known simply as “B”, and formed by Hauke Stiewe, they are perhaps the most unorthodox party on The Local’s List.

This group formed from the union of two regional parties based in Berlin, and has roots in a variety of political traditions and groups, in particular Berlin’s squatter community.

“B” identifies itself as somewhere between eco-anarchism and Dada – the surreal artistic and social movement from the beginning of the 19th century, which valued absolute individuality and refused to follow accepted norms or ideals.

Their campaigns centre mainly on ecological policies, like promoting cycling, but they also advocate the total deconstruction of modern civilization, welcome economic bankruptcy (because “poverty brings us together”) and plan to convert the defence ministry into the “ministry of sharing”.

Stiewe’s party is best known, however, for a regular protest it organizes in Berlin – which takes the form of a giant vegetable fight.

The Local will be running a live blog on Sunday from 5pm (German time) covering all the latest election developments and bringing you the results as they come in. Check our homepage from Sunday afternoon to follow it.

READ MORE: Reasons why the election matters to non-Germans

Alex Evans

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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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