Pirate Party of Germany

An interview for a US school magazine, based on a meeting in Weimar.

– What do you see as the political mission or agenda of the Piratenpartei?

Not only is our political mission, in my opinion, to make different political decisions from other parties, but to change the way these decisions are made, i.e., we want the decision process to be highly transparent and based on grassroots democracy. I personally perceive the Pirates‘ Party as a civil-rights movement.

– Why do you think the Piratenpartei has become so popular so fast?

Piraten in Berlin FSA09

Foto: Alexandra Bernhardt

From 2006 until 2009 the Pirates‘ Party of Germany had been only a small group consisting of people who agreed with the political aims of the Swedish Piratpartiet. They gained public attention by protesting against the telecommunication data retention of the German government. In 2008 the German Federal Minister for Family Affairs started a programme abridging the freedom of speech on the internet in the name of fighting child pornography. Yet, a lot of young people did not want to lose their freedom in the name of security. Some of them showed government authorities how to bring down criminal websites within 2 hours by simply sending abuse emails. Within a few weeks 10,000 people joined the Pirates‘ Party to protect their civil-rights. The next step towards success was the election to the Berlin House of Representatives in 2011. And now we are 35,000 pirates.

– What is your opinion (and the Piratenpartei’s opinion, if there is one) on the Euro/EU crisis and the way it is being handled? What is your opinion (and the party’s) of the European Union? What do you and your party say about Merkel?

The European Union is a loose confederation of 27 countries. Its goal to form a political entity has not yet been achieved. There is a monetary union. As far as its budget is concerned, however, every nation is largely independent. I think that the political entity of the European Union is a task we still have to work on.

Our main critique of the current EU legislative process is that a lot of ideas which have previously been rejected by national parliaments come back as EU provisions. Moreover, some EU decision-making takes place under dubious circumstances, for example: the EU signing ACTA was decided by the Committee on Fisheries.

What do we have to say about Merkel? Let me answer this by quoting Jacques Chirac: „Politics are like acting on stage, and the task of the opposition is to remove the make-up of the government, while the show is still on.“ There is a lot of uncovering to do for the Pirates, in this respect, the keywords here being INDECT, ACTA, CETA, IPRED2, telecommunication data retention, censorship, ELENA, §108e, resident registration, and LSR.

– What do you consider the greatest problem in German politics? Does the Piratenpartei offer a solution?

German politicians are increasingly faced with repudiation and loss of trust. We call it Politikverdrossenheit. There are a lot of reasons for it. One of them is the growing self-interest of the political parties, for which power and money are coming to the fore, while the welfare of the state and its citizens comes second.

Mike_gh | CC BY-NC

The Pirates‘ Party offers a platform for political activities while providing only marginal barriers to these. Everyone can be a part of the opinion forming process of our party. This ishow we want to change the way politics work. Thus, in recent elections we were able to encourage a lot of former non-voters to (re-)join the workings of democratic volition in politics.

– What is your opinion of the way parties work in Germany?

The role of political parties had, for a long time, been discussed controversially in Germany, since members of parliament were primarily considered accountable to the citizens and not to their respective parties. When the Basic Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of Germany came into effect in 1949, it attributed a central role in political proceedings to parties, though. Consequently, nowadays many German members of parliament are not free in their decisions but under the whip of their parties. The Pirates reject restricting party discipline.

– What do you see as the role of modern technology in society and in politics?

Modern technology provides us with the ability to communicate rapidly, to access knowledge, and to network. We can also use it to make governance more transparent—or, unfortunately, the citizens … Now more than ever we have to say: „‚1984‘ was not supposed to be an instruction manual“.

– How did the meeting with the Thuringian board work out? Are you an official part of the Piratenpartei now? What do you think will be the Weimar Piratenpartei’s role in the entire Piratenpartei?

All members of the Thuringian Pirates‘ Party are members of the German Pirates‘ Party. Everyone of us is entitled to attend the party’s federal congress and to submit an application on this occasion. Attendance is expensive, however. Our party conventions are the largest in Germany. Yet, this is the way we live and breath grassroots democracy. The Pirates‘ Party of Germany is part of the international Pirates‘ movement and, therefore, a member of the „Pirate Parties International“. The goal of our meetings in Weimar is to establish a local section of the party in order to face specific problems occuring in our city.

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