The German Pirate Party just won its Fourth State Election. Looking at these news, Rick Falkvinge gives his own five reasons why “Germany, of all countries, has such breakthrough success with their Pirate Party”.
In my opinion, there is a Zeroeth Reason, that is important to not overlook if you care about digital rights and innovation.
That Zeroeth Reason for all these victories is simply that Germany is in much better economic shape than most other countries these days. Original themes of Pirate Parties (copyright, net neutrality, free internet access) are “rich people” stuff. With this, I don’t mean that those aren’t crucial issues for everybody (heck, I spend most of my working time just explaining everybody how crucial they are!).
What I mean is simply that the great majority of voters only stop to bother about these things after they feel they’ve found answers for thingies like job security, shelter, food, pension and taxes. But that’s all stuff that, even sticking to “first world” countries, is far from granted for lots of people these days.
Yes, I know that even in Greece the Pirate Party did an “amazing” first election, but the Greek 0.5% is pretty far from German percentages.
Above all, I do wonder whether the German successes aren’t mostly due to the presence in the program of proposals like “minimum income law” and “greater political transparency”.
Both proposals and needs that have been around far longer than Pirate Parties, and are much closer (or perceived as such by most voters) than digital themes to the analog “thingies” I mentioned above.
Another way to put this, I guess, is that the more a “Pirate Party” stops being a “Digital Pirate” party, the more reasons it has to exist, in the eyes of voters. But this begs the question: when other movements started around topics like minimum income, greater transparency etc.. already exist, what makes more sense? Bringing digital themes inside those movements, or start a Pirate Party?
Don’t ask me, I’m not sure I have an answer ready yet. Not for everybody, at least. But I am very interested to read in the comments what Pirate Party voters in Germany, Greece or anywhere else think of this hypothesis!
Of course, even if I’m right on the Zeroeth Reason, this doesn’t mean that digital rights activists worldwide should stop what they are doing. We should only never forget that it exist.