Reason n. 0 why the Pirate Party won in Germany

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.


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6 thoughts on “Reason n. 0 why the Pirate Party won in Germany

  1. German Pirate voter

    hey o/

    i think your first point got the point perfectly. people vote only for pirate party or the green party if their life is otherwise secured.
    if you have a save job, your friends and family have save jobs and everything is running more or less good for you, you start to look around you and start to think about other problems like environmental protection, renewable energies and such stuff. people who vote for green party are usual well educated upscale middle class.

    the pirate party doest not realy share the same voters as the green party, but they are similar to the green party in the case that people vote for the pirates who have no real problems in their life.

    and another importent point is, that internet and freedom stuff or free income for everyone or what ever is not what is gathering the most votes.
    that liquid democracy thing is what everyone in germany likes.
    there is almost no trust left in how politics work at the moment. people beliefe that who ever wins anelection gets sooner or later corrupted by the might he gets.
    people dont like those backdoor deals where it looks like the politicans and coorporations are the only ones who get profit from it (and there were some very famous political decisions the last years in germany which people demonstrated against).
    and all political actions seem all to be short termed, it seems like the actual political system does not reward decisions which doenst show a possitive effect within 1-4 years.
    that liquid democracy thing and transparency makes people believe it could realy change politics to something better which in the end produces better political decisions even if no one believes that the pirate party could solve any problems (except changing the politic it self)

  2. @XBrainer

    The pirates in Germany do not make politics for the internet; they make politics for the society changed by the internet. That’s a big and important improvement to the other pirate parties. It’s about all people no matter they are rich or poor.

    But the success of the pirates in Germany does not show that the people understand the pirates. Since pirates are 5%+ they are very interesting for protest voters. (Sad but true). These votes are not safe in the future. But they open chances to prove themselves, now.

    The “free-income-for-everyone” -thing is not really a reason to vote the pirates. Not even for poor people because everyone knows it is unrealistic. This point in their program is mainly used against them. It is more like a long term vision. Like the nuclear phaseout vision of the greens 30 years ago. In 10 years this unrealistic hippy vision will become reality in Germany.
    This fact give me hope that the pirate ideas will find their way to society, earlier or later…

    Greatings from Germany

    1. marco Post author

      they make politics for the society changed by the internet. That’s a big and important improvement to the other pirate parties

      That’s one important improvement indeed. Thanks for pointing it out, I see it as a confirmation of my hypothesis, that the more a Pirate Party “renounces” to be a “digital pirate” party, the more relevant for the public it becomes. The fact that it is important for “protest voters” is sad, I agree, but it is a very general issue that any new party of any kind must take into account when it getst started. Personally, that issue bothers me less than the possibility that activists get false expectations by thinking that there are enough non-protest voters caring for digital issues to be successful

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  4. Störtebeker

    The established parties have lost their appeal. CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP have become almost indistinguishable from one another. Germans are simply weary of hearing “there is no alternative” day in and day out. The Left plays no significant role, so Pirates have become the focal point for almost everyone outside the establishment.

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