The Pirate party in Germany won 7.8% of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the most populous state which includes cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen. That puts it near the Greens and ahead of both the ex-communist Left Party and the Free Democrats, who are part of Germany’s ruling coalition. If the party enters the Bundestag in next year’s federal election, it could affect the make-up of the government (NRW is seen as an important bellwether for national elections, which take place in late 2013).
Michael Lühmann of the Göttingen Institute for Democracy Research, fears that without parties to mediate between citizens and the state, small, highly motivated groups can prosper at the expense of the many – sounds like political lobbying to me? Nor do I expect he as analysed the socratic effect of “communicative ascent” on political dialogue over time…
Yet Germany is often said to be suffering from a democratic malaise, with broad-based parties like the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats all losing members. As in other western economies, voter turnout is falling, with citizens tending to mobilise outside party structures. A poll in Der Spiegel says that 83% favour more direct participation.
It all started in Sweden
The Pirate party was started in Sweden by Rickard Falkvinge in the Fall of 2005. In Sweden the Pirate Party received 7.13% of the total Swedish votes in the 2009 European Parliament elections, with Christian Engström and Amelia Andersdotter taking seats at the European Parliament. The Pirate Party is now an international movement of more than 40 regional Parties.
Not just a flash in the pan
In Germany, the Pirates secured 7.4% of the vote in Saarland, Germany’s smallest state (excluding the city-states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg). “They have their strongholds among young people in cities with universities, with an academic environment,” says Lothar Probst, a political scientist at the University of Bremen. “One of the amazing points in Saarland is that it only has one or two universities. The Pirates were still pretty successful in the countryside.” Their ship came in yet again on May 6 when they earned 8% of the vote in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. Entering parliament in NRW makes them four for four.
Now if someone can translate this properly for me, as I’d like to figure out what they are saying about the use of Liquid Democracy by the Pirates….