The Two-Way
1:52 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Pirate Party Wins Seats In Berlin Elections

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 2:01 pm

Germany's state parliament now has representatives from a brand new political party that focuses heavily on Internet freedoms. The Pirate Party won 8.5 percent of the vote for the Berlin state parliament and ousted the Free Democrats, which is part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition.

And who are the party members? Here's how Der Spiegel opens their story today:

As Berlin election results came in on Sunday evening, sweaty members of the Pirate Party danced arm in arm beneath a disco ball at popular club in the city's Kreuzberg district. The smell of marijuana spread through the informal party, where guests made their own sandwiches and drank bottled beer.

"I can't believe it," said newly elected parliamentarian Christopher Lauer as he fell onto a sofa, sending a message of thanks out via his Twitter account for the 8.9 percent of voter support. "It is breathtaking, a surreal feeling, because there is nothing that compares to this."

Standing before the television screen, the leader of the Pirate Party, Sebastian Nerz, called the historic moment "cool."

"It's the first time since the 1980s that a new political power has come onto the stage," he said.

Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster, had a serious talk with Nerz. They walked through the party's platform including their promise to make all government data open and they discussed their opposition to restrictive copyright laws. The paper challenged Nerz on the practicality of providing free public transit, another cornerstone of their platform.

The paper also challenged Nerz on taking the party to the national level. Nerz said:

We're aware of that and we also know that, if national polls were held tomorrow, we probably wouldn't win 8,9 percent of the vote. We were told so many times that we wouldn't be able to clear the five-percent hurdle in Berlin, but yesterday, we spectacularly proved that we could. Now we can prove that we are capable of serious, long-term politics in parliament, that we are trustworthy and if we can prove that, I believe we will manage the five-percent hurdle in national polls, too.

Now, we could not help but notice that the Pirate Party's win came a day before International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Coincidence?

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.