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German Pirate Party Enters 2nd State Parliament

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the former-pirate-turned-navy-legislator dept.

Piracy 188

An anonymous reader writes "After its recent success in the Berlin elections, the German Pirate Party scores 7.4% of votes for the state parliament of Saarland, earning them 4 seats out of 51. While the campaign didn't center around copyright issues and/or ACTA (the party's stance is well-known), it centered around open government, access to education, and participative governing models, effectively ridding the party of its 'one issue' notion."

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188 comments

Working within the rules can still work (5, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 2 years ago | (#39480829)

To me, this sort of win, the power that it gives them to promote and further the gains that they stand for is likely to have a MUCH bigger impact on the actual lives of their constituents than all the Occupy movements put together. Recently in Australian politics, the Green Senators have shown themselves to be a wonderful constant badgering voice calling Bullshit when needed and keeping the government here in check. I can't help but hope that the Pirate Party in Australia has similar success.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (5, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#39480893)

This works in places with a system of government where getting 7% of the votes translates to a voice in government.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (5, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#39480971)

Exactly. Having participated in the French PP, I can say that our chances of ever having a representative are far slimer : here you need a majority vote in a district for that to happen. But it can happen through deals with other big parties. "We are worth 3%. We'll call to vote for you if you put net neutrality in your program and let a PP candidate run without your opposition in 3% of the winnable districts"

Re:Working within the rules can still work (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#39481103)

As opposed to here in the US where the supposedly more liberal of the two parties controls half the legislative branch and the executive branch, and yet we're talking about tax cuts, invading another oil-rich middle eastern country, and pretty much doing nothing about the deficit.

I realize many slashdotters think this is a result of the two-party system, and I respect that opinion, but I still think the problem has far more to do with the voters. I think giving them more options will merely give them more ways to vote against their own interests.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481319)

Last time the US tried 3 parties it got "bush" elected, I'll pass, I "don't think" we can top the worst president in history(any country)... but I don't want to take that chance...

Re:Working within the rules can still work (1)

darthdavid (835069) | about 2 years ago | (#39481759)

That's because of the way voting works in this country though. If things were set up better other parties could gasp win elections.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39482171)

it got "bush" elected, I'll pass, I "don't think" we can top the worst president in history(any country)..,

Yet Obama managed it somehow. Bush has a good edge over the 3rd place, which makes Obama's accomplishment all the bigger.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (4, Insightful)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 2 years ago | (#39481989)

"The US has one party with two right wings."
- Gore Vidal

Re:Working within the rules can still work (2, Insightful)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 2 years ago | (#39481259)

Our voting system is more complicated than the various first-past-the-post systems. Generally, however, 7% of the popular vote scores little representation in the Australian House of Representatives either, e.g. Greens hold 1 seat [http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HousePartyRepresentation-15508.htm] out of 150 on 11.76% of first preferences [http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HousePartyRepresentation-15508.htm]. In our Senate the electoral system works differently and the result is more proportional (e.g. Greens hold 6 of 40 seats on 13.11% of first preferences). The minor parties in our senate hold no direct control of government, but collectively their votes are typically the difference between a measure passing or not given the fairly even balance between the major parties. This is what gives them a voice.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (5, Informative)

schwitzkroko (633855) | about 2 years ago | (#39481307)

They are represented in the Saarland parliament now. That is the legislative, not the executive body. Theoretically they could be included into government by a coalition, but this is not going to happen for now.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481593)

In Canada, 7% can almost net you a "majority" government. What does it take, now, about 33% of the vote?
Proportional Representation rocks. Let's use that from now on?

Re:Working within the rules can still work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481961)

This works in places with a system of government where getting 7% of the votes translates to a voice in government.

It actually works in a system that requires majority for representation too, but in a slightly different way.
The problem with those systems is that anything less than majority leads to no power at all. This promotes parties that are willing to give up their ideals for power. (That is why the U.S. has a two-party system where both alternatives are basically the same.)
To be able to have influence in such a system you don't actually need a majority of votes, what you need is enough votes to be the difference between the two major parties.
This will not change the politics immediately, but consistently voting for a smaller party will over time create statistics that will show the one of the major parties that aren't in power that they lost because they didn't represent you. (Voting for "the lesser evil" does not give them those numbers but rather validates politics that you don't really support.)
Not only will it show the politicians what you think is important but it also shows other voters that there are alternatives that could eventually grow to be a real force.

Don't waste your vote on someone that doesn't represent you just because there is someone that is even worse.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39482199)

But that'll mean someone I don't like might get in! That'll mean that I might actually have to... inconvenience myself! Nope! Being the extremely intelligent person that I am, I'm just going to give up and vote on one of the major parties. Patience is for suckers.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (2, Insightful)

countach (534280) | about 2 years ago | (#39480991)

The Greens are a mixed bag. Half the time they do a great job of calling Bullshit. Half the time they are the purveyors of the bullshit.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#39481157)

Half the time they are the purveyors of the bullshit.

[Citation needed]. No, seriously, I'm genuinely interested.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481373)

> [Citation needed]. No, seriously, I'm genuinely interested.
Flat-out refusal to support anything with the word "nuclear" is one thing the international Slashdot crowd will get:
http://greens.org.au/policies/climate-change-and-energy/nuclear

They wish to close Australia's only nuclear reactor, a research reactor whose main product is radioactive isotopes for medical imaging. The policy also blindly ignores things like thorium cycle fission reactors or even nuclear fusion reactors if they were viable.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481503)

"Fellow Earthians,

Never before has the Universe unfolded such a flower as our collective human intelligence, so far as we know."

Bob Brown's latest speech. Complete BS.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481123)

"Fellow Earthians,

Never before has the Universe unfolded such a flower as our collective human intelligence, so far as we know."

There is more of this sort of inanity from Bob Brown [greensmps.org.au] in the speech.

The Greens talk BS far more than they call it.

Re:Working within the rules can still work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481985)

And in NZ the Green party still sell out every chance they get.

Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" wins (1, Insightful)

ivi (126837) | about 2 years ago | (#39480859)

Frankly, I'd prefer to see some issue-specific "Green" party get in: Eg, the Subj ones.

There are, after all, some more critical (eg, to life on Earth) issues to be solved here.

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39480869)

What about the greens then?

But of course. I like how you don't complain about any of the bigger parties. The biggest difference between those?

A few tax percent. Completely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#39480935)

don't underestimate the destruction caused by patents, copyright, etc. The damage to our culture has barely begun to show - while it's not direct, our culture is being less and less documented as a result.

Patents around green products can affect the life on earth issue, and patents on medicine cost actual lives (and money).

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 years ago | (#39482493)

That's not even counting the fact that most "green" political parties (at least in France) are a bunch of opportunistic retards that are just there for politics, not at all about ecology.

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (5, Informative)

abridgedslashdotuser (1932110) | about 2 years ago | (#39481055)

Frankly, I'd prefer to see some issue-specific "Green" party get in: Eg, the Subj ones.

They have a green party in Germany and they are also just got voted in and will be sitting "right beside" the "pirates" in the state parliament after this election there in Saarland.

There are, after all, some more critical (eg, to life on Earth) issues to be solved here.

A party who opposes censorship, data retention and supports more government transparency is also needed and these issues do matter there, because the "pirates" got 7,4 % of the votes in Saarland so their program is more supported then that of the green party who barely got over the 5 percent threshold with their 5,0 %. I think you just said something without knowing the political situation there, or am i wrong?

But besides all these things got me wondering... in Germany even new and small parties have a chance to get into parliaments and now there are six different bigger parties (cdu/csu, spd, the green party, the left party and now the pirate party) and many more small parties there to chose from, but in the us they just got stuck with two, why? I don't get it where is the democracy in that?

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (3, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39481969)

...also all of these parties have a lot of overlap.
Any combination of parties starting a coalition with another has already been tried. Amazingly most seemed to be functional.

This is why a new party like the PP doesn't NEED a party stance on everything. Besides, parliamentarians can and should have their own conscience and vote along those lines. The PP doesn't need a consensus on EU milk quotas, the recession(there is none in Germany at the moment) and other issues. The Green Party started like that and became a party with a complete programme within two decades.

There are safeguards against fragmentation. You need at least some percentage to actually get a seat in parliament. Most commonly that's 5%. That keeps the kooks out.

Also if a big enough portion of your population votes for a party that doesn't make it into government then government still has to take their needs into account. Otherwise you don't have a democracy but a dictatorship of the majority. Which never is a good thing.

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481973)

but in the us they just got stuck with two, why? I don't get it where is the democracy in that?

Americans are on the whole pretty stupid (like every country) and can only handle two choices. This keeps it quite clear for the morons as they only need to pick either black or white.

See:

* Abortion
* Left right politics
* You're either with us or against us (in war)

Personally I envy countries that have a real choice amoung political candidates and parties (I'm from UK which is just as bad as the U.S.A.). If that makes it difficult for them to do their job well tough titties.

One of the primary goals of a democracy should be to give every person his/her own voice. Only having a choice of two parties voilates this most basic of freedoms.

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (2)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 2 years ago | (#39482595)

The Green party is well established in Germany anyway. They actually took a beating in Saarland this time, but they are running the state of Baden-Württemberg with the SPD as their junior partners and they are participating in several other state governments.

I think the PP is an important addition - I agree that green issues are vital, but we also need to protect the foundation of our democratic system, otherwise we have no chance of addressing these issues. The main problem with stuff like ACTA etc is not even the content of the treaty (though it's bad enough) but that the route taken to implement it, basically subverts democratic control. That needs to be stopped urgently.

Re:Better: Some new "Pro-Electric Vehicle Party" w (1)

damburger (981828) | about 2 years ago | (#39481793)

Green and Pirate issues do have some overlap. Currently pure rent-seeking counts as economic activity, and so long as someone in your country is getting revenue from somewhere else, can perversely appear as growth. This is not a trivial problem; the UK has been a heavily IP-based economy for a long time (look at ARM: a UK company making one of the most ubiquitous architectures in the world that doesn't itself ever make a single chip. Pharmaceuticals are another good example.)

This can mask underlying problems in the physical economy - which should be of concern to Greens. Anything that allows you to maintain business-as-usual whilst oil prices rocket and we head towards a permanent energy crisis is obviously dangerous.

Copyright vs Education (4, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#39480915)

If we just did something outrageous and said,"All copyrights expire after 7 years", we'd have a great wealth of free media for the uneducated. We could put K-12-College books on 100$ laptops. Then schools, instead of paying 10,000$ for books for k-12, kids could get a laptop and schools could save 10 grand on each student. Schools keep complaining they're strapped for cash. Well, here is a solution. Not to mention how great it'd be for third world kids with OLPC.

Re:Copyright vs Education (4, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | about 2 years ago | (#39480933)

There are lots and lots of free textbooks. That has never been a problem.

The problem is to start actually using them.

Re:Copyright vs Education (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | about 2 years ago | (#39480953)

There is a massive stigma that if it is free then it can't be any good. Its the 'open' movement's worst problem, whether it is books or software.

Re:Copyright vs Education (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481317)

Yes, because the publishers make sure the free ones are never picked by major education.

Re:Copyright vs Education (5, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#39481153)

an informed population will not be one that submits to state (and now, corporate) control.

they don't want an educated population. they REALLY do not.

that's all I have to say on this subject.

Re:Copyright vs Education (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#39481171)

I think it's safe to say that the Germans know all about the risks of totalitarianism. Especially those over the age of 25 living in former East Germany. I'd be very very surprised if they'd forgotten that lesson.

Re:Copyright vs Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481243)

The lesson not to trust western bankers? The DDR would still be around if they knew how things would have ended up.

Re:Copyright vs Education (4, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#39481839)

No. Not being able to buy a western car, and not being able to fly to a tropic vacation location were enough to overthrow the former GDR. There were three main topics in the 1989 turnover: freedom of travel, west german money, and better environmental protection. They got all three of them, and they like it.

Re:Copyright vs Education (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39482289)

...there still is a lot of nostalgia going on. And a few things Eastern Germany produced/had are sorely missed. While each child was guaranteed to get a spot in kindergarden(which, frankly, were the expected paedagogic trainwreck) it took the unified Germany 20 years to implement that.

The people who harbour nostalgia for that regime do so with rose-tinted glasses and from personal experience which wasn't neccessarily bad. If you behaved and accepted you supposedly could have a nice life. I on the other hand have been to the archives containing the steaming slimy paper trail of mindless cruelty, indifference, red tape and cynicism(all for the greater good of all, of course...well, most). I can tell you that you do not want to know what happend if you caught the attention of the powers that be.

The urge to vomit drives tears to my eyes.

On a personal level, the East had a very popular children's TV programme that aired early in the evening. It was also popular in the West(if you could) get it. I loved watching it as a kid. 15 years later I learned that the wife of the last head of state(may he rot in his grave) was heavily involved in the programming. If there was shortage of some goods then they weren't allowed to show it. If there was abundance of others then they should show that in a feast.

A totalitarian regime leaves NOTHING untainted.

The urge to vomit still drives tears to the eyes.

Re:Copyright vs Education (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#39482373)

I grew up in Eastern Germany, and I know exactly what you are talking about from personal experience. My family was not completely aligned with the dictated mainstream, and so we got snags thrown in our way all the time.

Re:Copyright vs Education (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39482417)

I didn't. But I grew up facing the colourful side of The Wall.

Honestly, I don't know if I would have gotten into trouble on the other side. It takes a lot of courage to speak up especially when there is no certainty to actually gain something from it. Not all of us have the courage required.

Re:Copyright vs Education (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481549)

the majority of voters over the age of twenty-five that I've met in the former GDR wish they still had a communist dictatorship. Period. They are still brainwashed and reminisce about the "good old days" when "everyone had a job", but they don't understand the fact that the country was bankrupt and never exported a single product or innovated anything except for ways to keep people in prison for subversion... And that's why the GDR collapsed and was bought up and sold like soon-to-be-rotten meat to western companies. By the way: Germany just had a huge scandal about its neo-nazi underground, so I wouldn't expect them to have "learned" from the past...

Re:Copyright vs Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481635)

The DDR exported tons of stuff, mostly industrial.

Not much was exported to the west, though, so you may not have come across much of it.

Re:Copyright vs Education (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#39482485)

Not quite true. They exported lots of it to the west. It's a little known fact that control electronics for almost all major west-german brands of household appliances were produced by Robotron. The dish-washer of course still had a "Made in West germany" stamp on it. "Assembled in..." wasn't needed back then.

Likewise, most of IKEA furniture was produced there, until countries farer east and far cheaper became accessible for business after the fall of the soviet union and the german reunion.

But everything produced there that had at least a decent quality was assigned to the export to get some hard cash. The people there could only by the leftover crap that was unsellable even in the USSR.

Re:Copyright vs Education (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#39481853)

But if they actually want the GDR back, why does the Linke party just scores around 20% of the votes there, matching very well the percentage of the membership in the SED of the adult population before 1989? That means that 80% of the people actually going to elections don't want the communist dictatorship back.

Re:Copyright vs Education (3, Insightful)

risom (1400035) | about 2 years ago | (#39482235)

That means that 80% of the people actually going to elections don't want the communist dictatorship back.

The "people actually going to elections" part ist not to be underestimated - in the states of former eastern Germany voter turnout is hovering at about 50%, sometimes even lower. So 80% of the voting people are actually 40% of the people giving their vote - and therefore the minority :)

I also doubt that people want the "communist dictatorship" back, what they probably do want are things like not having to fear about their economic future, no fear of not being able to afford healthcare for their kids, not being discriminated as a woman, being able to sleep without worries about their idiot boss, not having to work their asses off for an oligarchy of multi millionaires etc. I assume they would be pretty happy to archive that without the dictatorship part.
To put it differently: people voting for the center-right parties (Greens, SPD, CDU) sure as hell are not happy with "capitalist democracy" along with the accompanying ills like the economic crisis, dwindling retirement pensions etc.

It sure is easy to write off the fond memories of people from Eastern Germany as results of brainwashing. But first, the same argument works for western Germany, too, and second do platitudes like this seldom help to get nearer to the true nature of things.

Re:Copyright vs Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39482295)

East-German here, 40yrs -- you hit the nail on the head, thanks. Please upvote [Insightful]

Re:Copyright vs Education (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39482325)

Also the pink party is the only somewhat reasonable left-wing party left in Germany. The SPD has done the deadly shift to the centre hoping to find voters there and is bleeding voters to Die Linke. Sad but true, in a day and age when government tries to sell of all public property to the lowest bidder who will keep infrastructure in a shoddy state of decay to please idiot stock holders such a party is needed. It isn't needed in government, but it is a voice that needs to be heard. Also their core issue isn't bringing about socialism but social and financial equality. Or at least keep the difference between the haves and the have-nots as low as possible.

Germany spent 10 years eliminating safeguards in job safety and we have learned to embrace the personal risk. Trouble is, that quite a lot of people fall besides the tracks and that is not who we are supposed to be. If you work hard then you should bloody well be able to provide for your family without needing another job. Or benefits. That's not too much to ask for.

The SPD(original remaining mainstream left party) had been instrumental in shifting Germany into what we are now. I helped us through when everybody else was in a recession, but that was the cost.

I've not been brain-washed(much...we in the west have TV ads for that) and even I can see that.

Re:Copyright vs Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39482085)

That's just wrong.

Re:Copyright vs Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39482233)

People have no long term memory. In most party of the world, poltiticians promise a lot to be elected, and forget allmost everything the day after the elections. That's a lesson the people could/sould learn every four years, but most people don't...

Opinions on the Pirate Party (2, Interesting)

Lotana (842533) | about 2 years ago | (#39480931)

We bound to have some German slashdoters here, so it would be good to have a first hand opinions on them:

- What is your opinion on the party?

- On what issues do you agree with them and which do you disagree?

- Do you think that they will be able to affect the policies or are they an ineffective tongue-in-cheek gesture?

- What do you see will be the biggest challenge for them in the future?

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (3, Informative)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about 2 years ago | (#39481247)

I am not German but I have been a resident in Berlin for several years and follow politics closer than many.

-They are a breath of fresh air in a stale bureaucratic system

-All of the ones I have heard their position on (yes I read their party manifesto)

-This one is hard to answer, time will tell. I do think that merely by being there they influence the frame of public debate slightly.

-Not going stale and becoming just another brick in the wall. German bureaucracy is pretty soul crushing sometimes

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39482375)

Also I like how they only have a core programme and leave everything else up to their respective members. I THINK they make a very good junior partner in a coalition government event tho they still need to grow up a little bit.

They have a very good chance to become THE liberal party in Germany as opposed to the current one that is now imploding over errors made in the 80ies.

Due to the unique way we vote(one vote for a party, one vote for a parliamentarian) you can have your Pirates flavoured Red, Black, Green, Pink(but not brown or yellow, that doesn't quite blend).

I can totally see them occupy ten seats in the federal parliament. They are the right ones to oppose the gerontocratic old parties. Just like The Greens used to be in the 80ies.

I can also see Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, our current minister of justice join them. Ever since the nineties she was the gal to watch. She has always been against government snooping, keeping IP logs for donkey's years, blocking IP addresses FOR TEH CIHLDRNS and strong on humanitarian issues. Her stance on ACTA is well known and frankly, she is everything that made the old liberal party electable(FDP). Hence my hope of her moving out of that moribund outfit.

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (1)

schwitzkroko (633855) | about 2 years ago | (#39481403)

- What is your opinion on the party?

What is the opinion of this party?

- On what issues do you agree with them and which do you disagree?

With which particular pirate?

- Do you think that they will be able to affect the policies or are they an ineffective tongue-in-cheek gesture?

Their policies are not clear and not consistent between their regional factions in the German federation. But in fact by their success at the ballots they actually effect strategies and topics of other parties. This is just as the Green party started in the 70s. Possibly this was their most effective period. At this time the Greens were shaping public opinion sustainably, whereas when in government much later they went with "Realpolitik" and had customized themselves beyond recognition.

- What do you see will be the biggest challenge for them in the future?

So far - the next OS X update for their Macbooks? ;-)

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (5, Interesting)

abridgedslashdotuser (1932110) | about 2 years ago | (#39481553)

A small warning for American readers, some views of mine will contradict what you believe is right and wrong, we have public health care here (i think this is how it should be) and other things you don't like so don't get too upset and also what i consider liberal could be something other then what you do. And my also my view of things can differ from the views other Germans have.

- What is your opinion on the party?

Germany needs a liberal party and not a neoliberal party in my opinion, so i think the pirates can be a win for the political landscape. There is/was a other liberal party the FDP who just got voted out of the parliament there in Saarland and they are also Germany wide in big trouble not only because the pirates but also because their economic liberalism isn't liked by the people in here anymore. People rights and opposing the rise of government surveillance where just a small fig-leaf in the end they didn't really deliver and right after the last federal election they made a big mistake on focusing on some tax cuts for the hotel lobby. That upset many people because if the rich pay lesser taxes then the rest has to pay more or the government has to cut spending and in the end this will result in a big decrease of the living standard here because a working government is better than a not working one and money is needed for that. The FDP then did cut some spending in our health system and the people got even angrier with them but they didn't listen and now they are at there dawn and i think the pirates are on the rise if they stick to their main program of more transparency, less government surveillance and if they don't try to cut the social safety net.

- On what issues do you agree with them and which do you disagree?

The pirates and there are a lot of issues the don't cover so it's hard to point out thing i truly disagree but if i think if they just focus on freedom and don't on social justice then in the long-view the freedom part can not be full-filled in my opinion. A party who cuts taxes for the rich and then also cuts government spending on social security is, in my opinion not liberal, because then Germany would be in a state as bad as England or the USA are now and no German citizen in their right mind would really want that. So if the would try to copy the business policies of the FDP than they won't ever get my vote. But the points that led to the founding of the German pirate party, which i had already had some listed above, these are the things (more government transparency, less government surveillance, no internet censorship, and a fairer copyright and patent law) i can agree with.

- Do you think that they will be able to affect the policies or are they an ineffective tongue-in-cheek gesture?

The funny thing is that even just by "jumping" over the 5% threshold and now having seats in two state parliaments (Berlin and Saarland) has the other parties in uproar and could lead to some opinion changes. How they behave in a coalition with other parties has yet to be seen. The theory how this could play out is one thing but how it will play out is the other. They got many votes from people who don't want to vote for the other five big pirates anymore, so if they now or some time in the future screw this up, this could be a blow to democracy here. Because if people get the feeling of powerlessness it could lead to more radicalism (left and or right).

- What do you see will be the biggest challenge for them in the future?

This year there will be many elections in other and bigger Federal states and the challenge for them is the same as in Berlin and Saarland, they have to get in the Parliament by "jumping" over the 5% threshold which is also their goal for the upcoming federal elections in 2013. And another challenge will be their increasing attention to the media here and also how the other parties will now react, now that they have seen that the pirates could possibly more than a one hit wonder.

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481935)

"Americans, don't get upset, but [blah blah blah a bunch of boring blowhard opinions that have basically nothing to do with America.]"

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (1)

zav42 (584609) | about 2 years ago | (#39482443)

Another comment on the "affecting policies" question:

It is indeed interesting to watch that the pirates did already have quite a notable effect on german politic after they won seats in Berlin last year. The position of the leading party (CDU) on things like ACTA didnt change 100%, but you could see many of the politicians changing their arguments pretty quickly after that first election.

And this is not the first time this has happened. The green party which sometimes got up to 25% in nationwide polls and was in the government for some years, did have that same effect on the two big parties. Without the green party it would not be so "mainstream" today for all parties to be very close to each other on ecology politics.

-Bernd

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481729)

- What is your opinion on the party?

they are disorganized, plagued by personal conflicts between members and don't have distinguishable positions (which is mostly due to their consensus-based approach).

Even on core issues like ACTA the party is not able to give a coherent statement - first they merely criticized the non-transparent process in which the agreement was negotiated, now they say it should be rejected because it is too encompassing, but you will never get a consensus within the party on which parts of copyright and patent law are worth salvaging and how much should be discarded. And in the pirate party no consensus means they go into interviews and say "we have no idea what we want to do on this topic".

The Saarland pirate party did ignore these core themes (copyright, net neutrality, ...) during their campaign almost completely for very good reasons (they only serve to alienate voters) and focused on presenting themselves as a somewhat undefined alternative to all existing parties. As a result they attracted voters from all parties and many people who hadn't voted in the previous election at all (also notice that the voter turnout was very bad which certainly helped the pirates).

Those positions they do have represent a wild mixture of libertarian and leftist ideas, their statements on financial, economic or social policy always remain extremely unspecific and vague (economics grad student here).

- Do you think that they will be able to affect the policies or are they an ineffective tongue-in-cheek gesture?

at the moment they are the fashionable party for all people who are frustrated with politics but don't want to vote for the far left or the extreme right (interestingly enough the pirate party did attract quite a few nazis early on). They won't be able to affect politics in the Saarland at all as the new (coalition) government between christian democrats and social democrats will have an extremely stable (2/3) majority - they get to collect some parliamentary experience but their 4 votes won't make any difference either way.

- What do you see will be the biggest challenge for them in the future?

survive all the crazy people they attract, expand their fields of competence, adjust their ideas about democracy, consensus and participation to the realities of political life without giving up on them completely. a leaderless, democractic party sounds like a nice concept but will always be way too much of a risk to be taken into consideration for any coalition government - and a party that has never demonstrated that they can actually walk the walk doesn't get much points for talking the talk as parliamentary opposition,

Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#39482549)

I'm a german /.er

In my opinion, a party without a fixed policy is the best thing that can happen to parliamentarism over here, because this means debates would get their whole reason d'être back: convincing the members of parliament to vote for or agains something, based on arguments.

Currently, we're paying 625 people to raise there hands based on party policy instead of personal beliefs and opinions. Predictable as it is, it's a waste of time and money.

The biggest challange for the PP is their lack of a party policy, that renders them too unpredictable for the average voter.

One of the corners of the world, fixed. (0)

Cazekiel (1417893) | about 2 years ago | (#39480947)

My stepbrother was born in Kaiserslautern, so he technically has German citizenship. That's it. I'm convincing him that we need to move there, pronto, before my passport expires a month from now.

"pariament" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39480963)

What's a "pariament?"

Re:"pariament" (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39481037)

Typo for "parliament", a term for an elected legislative body in which the executive branch is answerable to the legislature.

Could mean people want open government but... (-1, Redundant)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#39480967)

But most of the people who voted for them were overheard saying "ARRRRH!" as they left the polling place.

Ugh (4, Insightful)

Formalin (1945560) | about 2 years ago | (#39480979)

I'm so jealous of proportional representation. Here 7% of the vote would get you 0% of the seats, barring some sort of miracle - like all of your votes being concentrated, instead of low level throughout the popular vote.

This makes it pretty difficult for new ideas to get out there... If large party A, B (or sometimes even C!) won't buy your idea, it's not getting represented.

Re:Ugh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481005)

That is what what the occupy movement should try to change. That would be a meta-change that would enable more change.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481021)

There was a plan by some reform-minded group to move en masse to Vermont or New Hampshire in order to create a concentrated plurality which they would then use to create their vision of paradise.

I think it fell apart when they realized that neither state would embrace their newborn utopia.

No surprise they didn't go to Wyoming as a backup.

Re:Ugh (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#39481165)

I think what you're referring to is the Free State Project [slashdot.org], which is a libertarian effort to implement their ideas in New Hampshire.

It hasn't fallen apart, really - they moved to NH and elected a bunch of state reps (not that difficult, since each represents about 4500 people). They then discovered very quickly that many of their ideas had already been adopted, and received a pretty warm reception from the established political leadership. Anyone who joined up gearing for a political fight would have been a bit surprised to find that instead of a fight they basically got handshakes and smiles.

This was partially possible because New Hampshire has an incredibly responsive and functional state government, and a strong tradition of believing in democracy more than in partisanship. That means, for instance, that the Secretary of State has stayed in his appointed office for a couple of decades, despite several changes in the party affiliation of the governor, because he's very good at his job and treats people fairly.

Re:Ugh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481781)

California is more libertarian than the Free State Project could ever hope:

The government is going bankrupt and must curtail services. The borders are porous and illegals are everywhere. True libertarians regard borders as a construct of The State so this should fit their views. While it's true that there are many rules, there is often not the manpower to enforce them. Witness the Oakland resident who recently opined "the police do nothing for us, every man has to defend himself". I bet that bro' has an arsenal. He might have even been packing concealed during the interview. Pot is damn near legal. There are building codes but once again, not enough manpower to enforce. You can buy land in mountains and build whatever you want in many places as long as the trees hide your structure and the neighbors don't mind True libertarians only care about public nuisance, not codes so this fits in fine. Warning though--anyplace you can do this will have high fire danger and Mexican cartel growers. That's OK though because you're a libertarian so you get to shoot the growers. If a fire starts you can take civil action against your neighbor that might have caused it. No need for The State. Just sue your neighbor--libertarian idealists permit civil law for such cases somehow since the civil court is technicly not "The State" and may be convened buy consensus.

Yep, The Free State Project totally missed the mark. They should move to California. It's a fucking libertarian paradise like Somalia, and becoming more and more everyday.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481823)

Having the same guy in office for a couple of decades points to several potential reaosns, being good at his job and treating people fairly are not necessarily one of them.

It could be the position isn't that influential, that it's not been contested because he has too many strings, or who knows what.

I don't doubt that the Free State Project is still optimistic about it, but I can't say they've accomplished anything much. Not sure I'd pick New Hampshire though, it has a short state Constitution, but a huge legislature. I find that to contribute to less influence, not more.

Re:Ugh (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481041)

I'm so jealous of proportional representation. Here 7% of the vote would get you 0% of the seats, barring some sort of miracle - like all of your votes being concentrated, instead of low level throughout the popular vote.

This makes it pretty difficult for new ideas to get out there... If large party A, B (or sometimes even C!) won't buy your idea, it's not getting represented.

This is why America desperately needs a 3rd party. This two party system we currently have does not come close to representing the voice of many Americans.

Re:Ugh (0)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#39481167)

I'm so jealous of proportional representation. Here 7% of the vote would get you 0% of the seats, barring some sort of miracle - like all of your votes being concentrated, instead of low level throughout the popular vote.

This makes it pretty difficult for new ideas to get out there... If large party A, B (or sometimes even C!) won't buy your idea, it's not getting represented.

This is why America desperately needs a 3rd party. This two party system we currently have does not come close to representing the voice of many Americans.

And what exactly is stopping the 3rd party to arise?

Re:Ugh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481269)

First past the post. "Throwing your vote away". "Letting the worse of two evils win by wasting your vote".

Re:Ugh (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#39481305)

First past the post. "Throwing your vote away". "Letting the worse of two evils win by wasting your vote".

Ah... I see... "stuck in local optimum" when better optimum points exists.
Hmmm... I'd recommend a "reheating the system in simulated annealing", but I feel that the things should go much worse for such a thing to happen.

Re:Ugh (4, Insightful)

The Snowman (116231) | about 2 years ago | (#39481309)

And what exactly is stopping the 3rd party to arise?

First past the post voting, for one. Instant runoff would be a huge help to get even a small number of non R or D candidates into offices that matter. Second, proportional representation.

But the real thing preventing a viable third party is the first two parties. They are the ones in government, they are the ones that passed laws in every state (e.g ballot access restrictions, electoral votes being winner take all) making it extremely difficult to get elected if you don't have an R or D after your name.

Re:Ugh (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 2 years ago | (#39481941)

Sure. Like in England, where you're conservative and vote Conservative Party and instead support some "Conservative-Liberal Democrat" coalition that makes no idealogical sense and is basically a purely political creation to check Labour.

Re:Ugh (4, Insightful)

MachDelta (704883) | about 2 years ago | (#39481075)

One problem with any kind of proportional system (hybrid or otherwise) is that you always end up with members whom the public has not elected directly. They can be whatever lunatic attack dog the party wants to appoint (or vote internally). Unlike a plurality system, you can't really vote those idiots out.

The biggest problem with democracy is that it promises far more than any practical solution will ever deliver. There is no perfect system.

Re:Ugh (1)

agm (467017) | about 2 years ago | (#39481173)

The biggest problem with democracy is that it promises far more than any practical solution will ever deliver. There is no perfect system.

The biggest problem with democracy is that it is used as an excuse for the state to actively harm people. There are many ways democracy enables the state remove or dilute our primary liberties. No system (democratic or otherwise) should allow this to happen.

Re:Ugh (1)

itslifejimbutnotaswe (1173791) | about 2 years ago | (#39481199)

I'm assuming you subscribe to the idiocy that in order to be in parliament, a member has to be directly elected by voters, rather than being high enough up a party heirarchy to be elected through the popular vote. If so, you're wrong, as _by_definition_ they were directly elected through the popular vote.

Re:Ugh (4, Insightful)

robmcdiarmid (2604049) | about 2 years ago | (#39481223)

There's no reason why you couldn't design a proportional system that forced each party to pre-post an ordered list of candidates. That way, you'd know exactly whom you would get for each percentage chunk that resulted in another representative from that party. And, if a specific individual within a given party is causing more people to not vote for the party than to vote for it, it's in the party's best interest to dump them, or at least put them lower on the candidate list.

Re:Ugh (4, Insightful)

maweki (999634) | about 2 years ago | (#39481393)

Funnily enough, this is almost exactly how it works in Germany. There is a pre-ordered and published list but we have a mixed system where you can vote for your district's candidate directly and the guy or girl who wins a district overrides his position (if placed) in the list. But the list/party-vote guarantees that the party is at least that represented.
And if there are more candidates that won directly than the percentage would allow for (in terms of representation), we add seats to the parliament in order for every directly elected representative to have his place.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39482193)

The hybrid system is also important for locational representation. Every area of the country is guaranteed to get a representative which I believe is one of the worries Americans have when it comes to proportional representation, that areas of the country may not get a representative at all.

Re:Ugh (2)

orzetto (545509) | about 2 years ago | (#39481883)

Uh uh no no, it does not turn out that way in practice. We have the system you describe in Italy and it's really rotten.

The result is that several parties put unpopular, but powerful candidates high in the lists so they are guaranteed a place in parliament. These are often crooked politicians, plain simpletons, or even mafiosi like Nick Cosentino [wikipedia.org]. The parties run the campaign promoting their logo, ideology or possibly the presentable candidates in their list (who are sitting so low that they do not stand a chance to be elected anyway). People are mostly dumb and do not notice.

Why having mafiosi in parliament? They get immunity (like the above mentioned Nick Cosentino did, he should be sitting in prison for several counts of mafia), and you get a lot of evil karma with their friends. Why simpletons? They are incapable of independent thought, and they will simply obey party leaders. It's party leaders, after all, who decide on their career, not voters.

I know this system works in countries such as Germany and Norway. To work, the system requires parties that are not just pretending to fight, but that actually oppose each other. In the US, I think you would get a situation more similar to Italy than Germany, with e.g. Dick Cheney having a permanent seat in Congress and steering the GOP as if it was his thing, and some just as crooked democrat on the other side.

What is necessary is to take power from the hands of party leaders and give it to the people. The parties may present a list, but citizens must be able to choose which candidate to vote, and whether someone is voted in or not must not depend on the position on the ballot list but only on the received votes.

Re:Ugh (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#39482575)

I think the difference here is that you'll loose lots of the vote percantage if you don't put the popular candidates on the top of teh list.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481301)

I don't see how this is the case, coming from a Hare-Clark system of voting used in State elections (Tasmania, Australia) here, the votes are distributed according to preferences of each voter, so I can't see how they aren't directly elected by the public. Perhaps you are thinking of a system where the party chooses the preferences?

(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote)

We still end up sometimes with one of 2 major parties ruling the roost, but can often end up with a third party, like recently with a minority government involving a Labor/Green coalition. Major parties are always trying to game the system to get rid of the third party, arguing that minority governments are inherently unstable (until they can only get government by forming a minority government, in which case the public line changes to how well they can work together with party X). Most recently the number of seats were reduced in an attempt to get rid of the Greens, but this ultimately didn't succeed as the Greens gained enough support to become a third force anyway, so it is an interesting 3 party dynamic.

I'm still somewhat jealous of Germany where there is a much more diverse political landscape, but I guess this is just a reflection of cultural differences (and perhaps size of the population). Politics in Australia seems somewhat stale and predictable at times.

Without the Hare-Clarke system large proportions of society would be alienated.

Re:Ugh (1)

Kat M. (2602097) | about 2 years ago | (#39481339)

In first-past-the-post systems, important party members will generally be assigned to so-called "safe seats" that have an unassailable majority for their party. As a character in Jeffrey Archer's "First Among Equals" snarkily remarked about such a safe seat (paraphrased), "you could put a donkey forward as a candidate and it'd be elected".

For a real example, Witney [wikipedia.org], David Cameron's seat in the UK, is a good example. It's been reliably conservative since forever; in fact, when in 1997 MP Shaun Woodward defected to Labour, he chose not to stand for the seat in the next general election (with no hope to win it it), but was moved to a safe Labour seat instead.

Similarly, the 8th congressional district of California [wikipedia.org], which is Nancy Pelosi's, has been overwhelmingly Democratic for decades, with around 80% of the vote being Democratic in congressional or presidential elections.

Also, not all proportional systems have pure list votes; Germany, for example, uses a mixed-member proportional system for its federal elections (with half the parliament being elected through direct votes). Ireland uses the STV system to approximate proportional representation with multi-member constituencies (3-5 members per constituency).

Re:Ugh (2)

maweki (999634) | about 2 years ago | (#39481361)

This is why, in Germany, we don't actually vote for a party but for a list supplied by the party. This list has to be openly available and 5 or 6 candidates are named on the ballot as an example.
Don't like the guy? Don't vote for the list he is on. If you still like the politics of his list/party, then why do you care if he is an a-hole?

Re:Ugh (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#39481455)

How so?

When I vote in elections using a proportional system I rank individual candidates. If I don't like Bob Smith from party X I can put him last even if I put John Jones from party X first.

Where is "here"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39481859)

I can type more than that for my comment.

Re:Ugh (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 2 years ago | (#39482281)

Exactly, it's very frustrating.
It's like getting 30 points in every tennis games but still losing 6-0 6-0 6-0.
While I don't care that much about tennis, it sure is a shame that we cannot get proper political representation.
The biggest problem is that in order to change this, A & B should vote for it. They don't have any incentive to.

Re:Ugh (1)

zav42 (584609) | about 2 years ago | (#39482423)

Another reader from Germany, I wanted to point out that germany does have a history of big problems arising out of a badly designed purely proportional representation with no 5% hurdle. This was in the so called Weimarer Republic before Nazi ruling and is claimed to be one of the (smaller) contributing factors to NSDAP gaining ground. The parliament was at that time split between so many very small parties that coalitions we changing by the day and the government was very unstable.

So the current "post nazi" system was designed with this problem in mind and is now a hybrid. The democracy in germany still has some problems though. Most notably the fact that there are too many elections because of the extreme federal nature, constantly interrupting politicians and looking too much on their popularity instead of concentrating on their work.

-Bernd

Hyperlinking (4, Informative)

mikethicke (191964) | about 2 years ago | (#39481357)

It seems to be a fairly common problem on Slashdot that posts are poorly hyperlinked. There are two key pieces of information here: (1) The party received 4 seats and (2) the party can no longer be considered a "single issue" party. The second two hyperlinks (7.4% and 4 out of 51 seats) are related to (1), but there is no hyperlink for (2). If a reader wants to know where (2) comes from, they have to randomly click the links to find that it comes from the pcworld.com link (7.4%). This is just annoying.

Social Justice (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#39481733)

A survey found 40% of Pirate voters naming "Social Justice" as the most significant issue, even though the Pirates didn't exactly campaign on this in the state (though their platform on the federal level includes it).

Re:Social Justice (2)

Kohlrabi82 (1672654) | about 2 years ago | (#39482037)

This adds to my impression that many, many voters just voted for them because they are fed up with the old parties and system. It may very well be that these voters will leave for greener pastures in the future, causing the PP to fall below 5% again (meaning they won't get seats in state elections). Also, a good percentage of the voters are previous FDP (liberals) voters. The FDP had two positions in the past, neo-liberalism with open markets and freedom for the financial sector, and civil rights. They nearly completely expunged the latter from their party over the years (apart from the national minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger), and now they are paying for it: They are part of the national government, but didn't even get 2% of the votes in the Saarland. Most analysts assume that the voters left for the other bigger parties and the PP.

Re:Social Justice (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39482413)

The social justice issue may also manifest in the average age of you garden variety pirate. They have most of their lives ahead of them and are not way past their prime. So voting for young people in the hope they will look out for young people is not that far fetched, actually.

If the FDP kicked out all Foreign Secretaries who don't speak Ze Englisch, get rid of people of so interchangeable qualification that they can take care of our health system AND our economy and all the other people who weren't considerate enough to jump out of an aeroplane with a dodgy chute then they would actually be electable. The tragic thing is Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has been the last true liberal in the FDP for decades. Her record for the last 20 years is spotless. If there is a voice of reason in this country then it is hers. Somehow the curse of Otto Graf Lambsdorff didn't affect her. An honest politician with a conscience. Who'd have thunk it?

I reckon quite a few pirates do admire her.

Improvised (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39482481)

The interesting thing is they didn't prepare for this election as much as the other parties did. They didn't have the money for polls or a coherent programme weeks before the ballots were cast.

This whole thing was pretty improvised. They followed their gut and didn't stress the digital issues they have(since they are well known to those who actually care) and explored what else they can stand for.

There were a lot of pirates going ARRR, and ding-a-ling while they drove around on their bikes hanging up posters. Pieces of eight were not looted.

A train station that had been in planning for 30 years got protested and that's about it. The Occupy movement wasn't very strong in Germany. That's why. We tried sit-ins and teach-ins and bed-ins(well, our parents did) and being sprayed by cops is all hunky-dory but ineffective. The tendendcy to Get Things Done this country shows from time to time is actually quite impressive. Usually it involves football, peace, endangered bugs, availability of beer, freedom, slightly more vacation so to push us even further over the European mean(gotta lead at least one board, amirite?) and now social equality. It's very hard to argue against any of that.
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