GlobalPost, April 4, 2012
BERLIN, Germany — When the band of internet activists known as the Pirate Party came from nowhere last September to win close to 9 percent in Berlin’s state election, there was still a sense that this could be a flash in the pan.
After all, Berlin was a city-state, known for its anti-establishment bent, and full of young techies working in the city’s burgeoning start-up scene, as well as students, artists and other bohemian types.
However, the success of the Pirates in Saarland last weekend has sharpened many minds in the established political parties. The Pirates were able to win 7.4 percent of the vote in the small state of 1 million people that borders France. They scored far ahead of the Free Democrats, the junior partner in Angela Merkel’s coalition, which only garnered 1.2 percent. They also pushed the Greens into fifth place.
Political commentators and party strategists are now acknowledging that the Pirates could be on their way to becoming an important political force in Germany.
It’s still unclear whether the party will shake up the political landscape by entering the federal parliament in elections scheduled for the end of 2013 — or fade away once the novelty wears off. Continue reading
GlobalPost, Oct. 7, 2011
BERLIN, Germany — They arrived at Berlin’s imposing parliament building, mostly wearing hoodies and sneakers, carrying orange pirate flags, the symbol of their party.
As they tried to enter the city-state’s legislature the day after their historic win, a stern woman at the security desk told them, “nein,” those party symbols are strictly “verboten.”
And so began the first day of the Pirate Party’s newly changed status as legislators, after an unexpected election result that has shaken up the staid world of German politics.
The band of internet-freedom activists shocked themselves and pretty much everyone else when they won close to 9 percent in the Berlin state election on Sept. 18, allowing them to send 15 very unconventional new politicians to the regional parliament. Continue reading