German Pirate Party

These are the newest politicians in the House of Representatives in the State of Berlin.

In the State of Berlin there were local elections this last week with some very surprising results.  The Free Democratic Party, which is one of the two parties in the national coalition, lost tremendously, only getting 2% of the vote and losing their seats in the House of Representatives in Berlin.  But, more surprising is the fact that a very new party, the Pirate Party, won 8.9% and gained 15 seats.

-A quick note about German politics, as far as I understand it.  In Germany, the party is almost more important than the candidate.  But, each party does have its candidates.  They have their Spitzenkandidat – top candidate, and they have their other official candidates.  If this party wins the most percentage of votes, then the Spitzenkandidat becomes the guy in charge.  For a national election, they become Chancellor, for a State election they become president, and since this was an election in Berlin (which is a city and a state) the Spitzenkandidat of the leading party becomes the Mayor of Berlin.  So, the people mostly choose the party that they vote for, but they also know who the candidates of each party are.

-The election results are listed as percentages of the vote each party received, and then that party receives that percentage of the seats in the House of Representatives or Parliament.  But, to avoid having a lot of parties in parliament so that nothing gets done, Germany has a 5% rule: In order to have a seat, the party must have at least 5% of the vote.  Any party who has less than 5% does not get a seat.  Since no party usually has a majority (more than 50%) of the vote, the leading party forms coalitions with one or more smaller parties until together they make up a majority.

So, back to the point at hand.  The Pirate Party is a new up-and-coming political force, in Berlin at least, with some very interesting ideas and policies.  One of their most important political goals is the protection of personal information on the internet from the government.  At the same time, they believe in more transparency in the government.  Government should not know every aspect of its citizens’ lives, but citizens should be able to know every aspect of the government.

I find this extremely fascinating, as I read what the Pirate Party has put on their website.  They make some great points, and more importantly, they are embracing modern technology in ways that other politicians have yet to do.  By so doing they have tapped the young vote.  These young people who spend so much of their time online now have a party that represents their interests relating to free information, open source technology, and privacy issues.  This is a political party that not only understand young people and their issue, it was created because of young people, and is represented by young people.  Look at that picture at the top — those are the politicians who now have a voice in the House of Representatives in the State of Berlin.  Crazy, isn’t it?  None of them look like politicians, and yet, there they are.  It proves to the rest of the world that it can be done, when enough people believe a thing and want to do something about it, they can even elect a new party to 8.9 % of the vote.

I am very excited to see what will happen in the next few years in Berlin and in all of Germany.  And I am kind of sad that it will more than likely never be possible for such a third party to ever gain any actual political power in the United States.

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2 thoughts on “German Pirate Party

  1. Reminds me of the Swedish party, from which its from. There are upsides and downsides. The one interesting, and perhaps morally debatable, aspect is that it is ultimately founded on the principles of anti-copyright. I’m torn on this one, but I do think there’s definitely a need for an overhaul of the various copyright/patent laws that stifle competition and innovation.

    As far as the U.S., though, I’m actually a proponent of the (primarily) two-party system (in national politics) for too many reasons to list here. What I don’t like is the massive polarisation and finger-pointing campaign on both sides. A person should run for what he believes and stick to it, creating values instead of lambasting other peoples’ ideas.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s too far out to imagine different parties. The current parties change in overall ideology quite frequently. In 1992 and 1996 Ross Perot won 19% and 8% of the vote, respectively. Those two occasions were pretty much out of the blue, and were there, say, a real Tea Party candidate, he could probably garnish a fairly large percentage as well. This is no endorsement, just an observation. Who knows what will happen…crazy times are afoot.

  2. Ted

    Huh, I actually kinda like the whole “party over candidate” style of politics. Very interesting.

    Also, good for them in having information rights and privacy rights at the forefront of political discourse! We don’t get enough of that over here in the States.

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