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Strong showing for the Pirate Party in German elections

This weekend it held the first of three regional ballots over the next eight weeks that will provide a snap-shot on Chancellor Merkel’s chances of retaining power after the federal elections due next year. The political press will highlight that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) received 35% of the votes, providing, says Peter Altmaier the majority whip for Merkel’s party in Berlin (reported by Bloomberg) “a vote of confidence in Angela Merkel’s policies” that “will give new impetus to the federal government.”

But more surprising, lower down the list, the Pirate Party received 7.4% of the votes, outperforming the Greens. The original Pirate Party was formed in Sweden by Rickard Falkvinge, to fight censorship (especially online censorship) and seek copyright and patent reform. It evolved from the same organization that also developed The Pirate Bay file sharing website.

On his own blog, Falkvinge waxes victorious. “There are 51 seats in Saarland’s parliament,” he writes. “With all the votes counted, we see that the Piratenpartei has won four seats, twice that of the Green Party. The FDP party has been effectively eliminated, clocking in at a mere 1.2%, which will pose problems for Angela Merkel’s CDU next year.”

But it is the longterm implications that are of greatest interest. “This will change technology policy and net legislation in a progressive direction,” he says. “Not just in Saarland and Germany short-term, but also in all of Europe mid-term, as the other political players realize that they need to change their policies to not lose more votes to the Pirate Party.” It’s an interesting point. He is not yet claiming that the Pirate Party can achieve anything directly in government; but he is suggesting that its growing strength will force the main companies to take public opinion on copyright issues more seriously. Growing support for the Green Party forced all major parties to take the environment more seriously; the same may now happen over copyright issues.