The German Federal elections took place this Sunday and the Pirate Party, hoping to gain a seat or two, ramped up the pressure. Despite strong showings in the local council elections a week or two earlier, they failed to win a seat in the Parliament, getting only 2% of the vote, falling short of the required 5% minimum.
Going into the elections, the ‘Piratenpartei’ must have been on a high. In local elections two weeks ago members of the Pirate Party were elected onto the city councils of Munster and Aachen, and just one week ago, in youth elections, they scooped almost 10% of the youth vote.
Despite all this, 2% was the best they could achieve in the Federal elections, although in itself, that is still not an easy figure to achieve. However, it is short of the 5% barrier required to enter the German Parliament. It also means that the seat they gained from the defection of Jörg Tauss has been lost.
Yet positives remain. Like their Swedish brethren, the Pirate Party is now the largest outside of government, eclipsing many established ‘broad spectrum’ parties. It also qualifies for federal funding, which at 0.85 Euros per vote nets the party somewhere in the region of €720,000 (or $1,050,000 US) from their 845,904 votes, plus additional money to match 38% of contributions and membership fees.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment is that the party has gained more votes in this election than the entire movement has before. It got a very strong showing with first-time voters, with Business Week reporting up to 13% of that group went Pirate. The party has also grown its membership tenfold in just a few months, to around 10,000. Not as fast as seen in Sweden, but still impressive.
Jens Seipenbusch, national party chairman, was upbeat about the results. “Our new style of politics touches the nerve of the people in Germany. We will continue to bank on participatory politics and to fight for civil rights online as well as offline.”
While it’s easy to focus on the negative, the positive is there as well. The party doubled its vote percentage in just a few months. With the funding, the rapid growth of members and the high profile the party has received in the media, it can only be a matter of time before the party gains more seats.