German Pirate Party Scores Another Electoral Victory: Gets 4 Seats In State Parliament

from the german-pirates dept

We’ve discussed in the past the success of the German Pirate party in getting 9% of the vote in the Berlin state Parliamentary elections, giving them a bunch of seats there. Following that, it was noted that the party actually had a similar 9% support level across Germany. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the party has been able to seat another four officials in another state election, this one in Saarland, where they took 7.4% of the vote, and got four out of the 51 seats (found via Slashdot). I do wonder why Germany’s Pirate Party has been so successful, compared to the various Pirate Parties elsewhere.

It’s also important to note that the campaign in this case didn’t focus on copyright issues (even with ACTA still being a hot topic in Germany). Instead the campaign focused on “transparent government, access to education as a prerequisite, and the right of the people to actively partake in the decision making process.” If the Pirate Party is actually going to grow, I think it’s important for it to do much more to highlight its position on these kinds of issues, so it’s good that this resonated. I’ve said in the past — and I know plenty of people disagree with me — that I think the Pirate Party’s name, while good for getting it initial attention, has the potential to limit its effectiveness and appeal in the longterm, in part because I didn’t think people would take its other policy issues (which have always been a part of the Party’s efforts) seriously. However, if they worked here, that’s surprising, but encouraging.

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Comments on “German Pirate Party Scores Another Electoral Victory: Gets 4 Seats In State Parliament”

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TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There was significant concern about Hitler and National Socialism (Nazi) well before he effectively seized power. The fact that he spent time in prison before he did ought to tell you something.

You forget that the political and social climate in Germany was completely different than it is today and so was the electoral system.


firefly (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, I think the comment makes some sense. The Germans most definitely have not forgotten how easy it is to completely lose freedom and come under the rule of a totalitarian state. Don’t forget how enlightened pre-Nazi Germany appeared to be, and you might see some parallels with how the U.S. now sees itself as a haven for freedom.

Those who live in countries that were on the side of freedom in the war have a dangerous hubris about how “it can’t happen here.” We aren’t as likely to notice signs of an impending police state such as “your papers please.” I remember my mother, who was a Wave officer in the Navy during WWII, explaining how in the United States indefinite detention is illegal, supposedly one of the freedoms she fought for. Japanese detention camps aside, I still think she’s been turning over in her grave about the fact that after Obama signed NDAA, indefinite detention has become the law of the land here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe because German IP laws and judges tend to be pretty strict there. So people are starting to fight back. Where IP laws and enforcement are not very strict, people don’t care as much about it.

So in a way, the Governments and the labels there are causing this to themselves, by pushing too hard against people’s rights.

mudlock (profile) says:

Reasons for Success

Why have the been so successful? One big reason is the different voting system used in Germany.

In the US, these 51 seats would be decided by having 51 distinct election in 51 distinct districts, and with 9% of the vote, the Pirate Party would have won zero percent of those seats.

But in Germany, the election is handled via proportional representation, so if your party gets at least 5% of the vote, then you’re guaranteed to get at least a few seats (through a somewhat involved “overhang” system whose details I won’t go into here, but look up “mixed member proportional” in Wikipedia.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Reasons for Success

I agree, the U.S. seriously needs to update its voting system. It completely sucks.

Proportional representation makes a ton more sense. and we should also adopt an alternative voting system.

Also see

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Reasons for Success

My favorite explanation of alternative voting is “It’s where you say ‘When you go to the shop, get me a Mars bar. If they don’t have any, get me a Crunchie. And if they don’t have any of those, get me a Boost.’ instead of saying ‘When you go to the shop, get me a Mars bar.’ and then your friend brings you back a pineapple.”

mudlock says:

Re: Re: Reasons for Success

Actually, the alternative vote (AKA instant runoff voting AKA ranked choice voting AKA the preferential vote) is also a really crappy method that leads to the same two-party dominated government as plurality voting.

I have a whole blog on this very topic, The Least of All Evils:

I contacted CGPGrey, to see if I could get him to do a piece on approval voting, but no luck yet (and he’s since reorganized his site and lost many of his old comments, including mine, so maybe I should try again…)

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Pirate Party victory? You must be SO HAPPY, Mike! Congratulations to Pirate Mike and his Pirate Friends!! Yarrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!

I’m really curious if you realize just how moronic you look, or if you actually think you’re making a point?

It’s actually incredibly sad that you’re acting so stupid that you can’t read beyond the name to recognize (1) the actual policies or (2) the very fact that I’ve criticized the party.

But, we all know that facts are not your strong suit.

matthias says:

why they are so succesfull over here...

I think, you should know some more details here:
First, Berlin and Saarland are two of the smallest german states – but there will be (at least) two more elections for state parliaments in much bigger states this year (Schleswig-Holstein and Nordrhein-Westfalen, both in may). These elections will be much more important for the future of the pirates. Actually, I’m quite surprised that someone in the US cares for the Saarland…
But it’s true that this party has become quite popular here in Germany. The main reason very likely is that they are fresh, new and fight for more transparency. With all those financial transfers to banks and Greece in the last years, people feel a little helpless: Once they are elected, your politicians do what they want for the next four years. Then again you can choose between several parties whose greatest difference seems to be how they’ve named themselves.
The pirates promise to change this, to introduce more direct features of democracy and they are experimenting with new ideas of how to involve the people more in decision-making (mainly using open platforms on the internet). No one knows if they’ll really be able to change (and improve) the way democracy works here, but some people at least want to give them a chance – mainly those who have not been voting the last time, because of the above mentioned reasons.
One last fact: Until very recently, the pirate party in the Saarland hadn’t had an own election program. When the parliament had suprisingly been dissolved some weeks ago, they had to hurry a bit to write one. So there’s definitly a lot of work upcoming for them…

matthias says:

Re: Re: why they are so succesfull over here...

Well, yes, the Gema drives us crazy. For every second music-video you want to watch on Youtube you get an error message: “This video isn’t available in your country because the Gema didn’t grant permission. We are very sorry. :-/”
Then you have to install a proxy or simply go to (you see, we can arrange with that).
So, you’re right, because of the Gema, copyright is quite a big issue in Germany, and nearly every party wants to modernize copyright law. As all the others don’t seem to understand much of modern technology (and sometimes even want to strengthen copyright law, thus making everything worse) the pirate party seem to be the most competent one in this case.
But as this all isn’t part of the states responsibility, copyright has been a minor point during the last months, but surely will rise again next year with the elections to the federal parliament.
Oh, and as one anonymous coward mentioned, they indeed are having quite good slogans playing with “pirates”. And as election campaigns are more serious here, there aren’t a lot of politicians from other parties claiming that all members of the pirate party were criminals (or something like that).

Anonymous Coward says:

As a german i think the recent success of the Pirate Party has a lot to do with generall displeasure of our political leaders. Just a few weeks back our president had to step down because of shady deals he had done. Eventhough hes under investigation he still got rewarded a 200 000? a year pention with i think 52 for the rest of his life for roughly 1 1/2 year of service. None of the other parties did anything to challenge that and a lot of people are just fed up with proffesional politicians that are so embedded in this corrupt system.
A lot of the Pirates are engineers or other professions usually not found in politics that are just so fed up they want to change the system and make it more open for people to be heard and not be lied to every 4 years just to vote.

And one of their Slogans is a clever wordplay on the term:
“get ready to board” with a simmilar sounding word for boarding that means chnage. In that way the name Pirate Party works great for the image they want to present. Mainly being different then the others. They are a Protestparty a bunch of people feel comfortable to vote for. And of course that all the other parties have no clue about the internet helps a lot with the young generation.

Watchit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is where I’m extremely jealous of Germany and other European countries, their if you are displeased with the major ruling parties you can vote for a third party and it actually makes a difference…

Here in the U.S. you have the option of either “Corrupt politician A” or “Corrupt politician B” you can vote for a third party but it usually makes little difference in the higher echelons of government, and only in the lower only if your lucky enough to live in a district with high third party support, which is unfortunately very rare thanks to Gerrymandering…

firefly (profile) says:


Arguing in favor of the Pirate name, it is associated with unprecedented political upset: the defeat of legislation that conventional wisdom said couldn’t be defeated. This has made me realize that we really aren’t powerless, as those who are trying to maintain their hold on power would prefer we believe.

Also, there’s a long history of underdogs embracing derogatory labels (eg geek). A negative label which can be associated with such a great success is a treasure in the P.R. world which I don’t think we should lightly squander. We fight censorship, and they call us pirates. Maybe the label pirate is one that we should embrace?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Monster Raving Loony Party: small parties can make a difference

As crazy as it sounds, small parties can make a difference even if they don’t come to power. One example I love to use is the story of the Monster Raving Loony Party, which is as crazy as it sounds. The leader was called Screaming Lord Sutch, and he suffered from clinical depression. He committed suicide in 1999.

Despite its satirical nature, some of the things that have featured in Loony manifestos have become law, such as being able to vote at 18, “passports for pets”, and all-day pub openings. Similarly, the outcry following Alan Hope’s appearance on the BBC’s Nationwide current affairs programme after he was elected ? during which he mentioned that butter and milk surpluses were being dumped down abandoned mine shafts under European Community rules to maintain prices (something the media of the day had failed to expose) ? resulted in the distribution of such surpluses to the needy or charities instead.

The point is, even a marginal party like the Loonys can make a difference so it’s worth voting for them instead of gloomily choosing between two dominant parties in the hope that the least odious one wins.

Find out more about the Pirate Party here:

/End plug.

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