Germany's political newcomer, the Pirate Party, has become the third political force in the country according to a new survey that gives it 13% of support, ahead of the Greens (11%), the Left (Die Linke, 8%) and the Liberals (5%). EURACTIV Germany contributed to this article.
The poll conducted by Forsa for the broadcaster RTL showed that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) had 36% of support, followed by the Social Democrats at 26%.
The Pirate Party (Piratenpartei Deutschland), a new political force of internet freedom activists modelled on the Swedish Piratpartiet, have shaken up Germany’s political scene in only a few months. The Pirates first entered in Berlin’s city-state parliament with nearly 9% of the vote in September 2011; in March they scored an upset in Saarland’s regional parliamentary elections with 7.4%.
The German Pirate Party was founded in September 2006, just after the Swedish Piratpartiet. The Swedish party won 7.13% of votes in the country's 2009 European elections and has clinched two seats in the European Parliament – Christian Engström, who was elected straight away, and Amelia Andersdotter, who joined after the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which increased the number of MEPs.
Sebastian Nerz, leader of Germany's Pirate Party since May 2011, is a bioinformatician. Other leading members are Bernd Schlömer and Andreas Baum.
The party's main platform is internet privacy. But Spiegel Online says the fact that the German Pirate Party is still be hammering out other platform issues doesn't seem to bother voters.
Although young, the Pirate Party has already its share of scandals and internal squabbling over strategy and leadership. Its youth organisation has been accused of sexist statements, and one of its leading members, who left since, was convicted for the possession of child pornography.
Bloomberg reported that the German Pirate Party is anarchic, with a history of hammering out policy disagreements via venomous Twitter spats. The party has appealed to a generation raised on Facebook, the Occupy protests, and file-sharing sites such as the Pirate Bay.
Germany's other political parties are reportedly watching the new party's development anxiously. According to some opinions, the party is replacing the Greens as a protest party.
Before the next national elections for the Bundestag in 2013, the Pirate Party will have to face some more regional election tests – in Schleswig-Holstein on 6 May and a week later in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia.
The Pirate movement has also won local government seats in the Czech Republic, Spain and Switzerland.
The Forsa poll surveyed 2,007 German voters between 2-4 April and has a margin of error of up to 2.5 percentage points.