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The politics of piracy

Germany may seem a bit severe at the moment, particularly where it comes to the future of the Eurozone, so it is worth remembering that it does have a much softer side, even in politics, and one which seems to be thriving. The German Pirate Party.

As in the politicisation of the Arab uprisings, the party had its beginnings online, where its main focus was campaigning for an internet that is free of censorship, and for the right to privacy. That has developed into criticism of what it sees as Big Brother-style government, and it is calling for more transparency in government affairs whilst opposing the keeping of centralised data on individuals.

With a membership largely composed of male 20-somethings, there’s an element of geek-appeal to the Pirates, but the movement has become very successful amongst the more general public, too. In the September 2011 Berlin state parliament elections all 15 of the party’s candidates – the youngest aged 19 – were elected, and its share of the vote (8.9 percent) outstripped a couple of the long-established parties. Since then, national polls have tracked the movement’s growth across the German nation, where support has reached double digits, and even the Green Party’s status as the nation’s alternative voice is being threatened.

Rather like Occupy, the Pirate Party movement – which started in Sweden – is beginning to gain currency overseas. There is now a Pirate Party in the UK, currently drafting policy, and finding candidates to fight future local elections. Although it too is focused on the issues of privacy and data retention, it will undoubtedly benefit from feelings of disillusionment with central government as austerity measures begin to bite. Despite the rather frivolous name, its members are clever people, they are serious, and they understand how to use the internet to communicate.

So far the movement has refrained from getting too involved in the murky world of economics, but it must be just a matter of time. With Occupy showing no signs of going away, perhaps the Pirates is the natural ally to provide that movement with a framework, with leadership and with policies.



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