The recent local elections in Germany, while proving something of a disaster for Angela Merkel and her CDU party, marked the latest success for one of Europe’s Pirate Parties. The German Pirates won 20 seats in the regional elections in Nord-Rhein Westphalia, meaning that it is now represented in four regional parliaments.
The first Pirate Party was established in Sweden in 2006, and others European nations soon followed suit. Beginning as a protest movement against tighter intellectual property laws on the Internet (hence the name), the Pirate Parties, which are now linked by the umbrella organisation Pirate Party International, soon developed policies on other issues too. As well as reform of copyright and patent issues, Pirate Parties around the world campaign for civil rights, democracy, citizen participation, transparency and freedom of speech.
As Europe struggles to pull itself out of crisis, frustration with the traditional political classes are growing, with more and more people seeing politicians as out-of-touch and self-serving. Thus the Pirate Party’s encouragement of citizen participation and power to the people is attracting more and more followers. Indeed, the German Pirate Party, currently something of a novelty, could soon emerge as a credible political force, with a recent poll putting their national support at around 11%. Could next year’s German elections see Pirates aboard the good ship Bundestag ?