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German Pirate Party Wins 15 Seats In Berlin

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Sea dogs climb aboard German ship of state on Talk Like a Pirate Day, calling for Internet freedom

The German branch of the Pirate Party, which stands for Internet freedoms, data protection and copyright reform, has won nine percent of the vote in Sunday’s Berlin state elections. This translates into 15 parliamentary seats.

The party has never gained seats in the German parliament before, and had to secure 5 percent of the vote to be entitled to enter. Initial results showed the Pirate Party received most of its support from younger voters, with around 15 percent of people under 30 voting for it.

“At the moment the Pirate Party of Germany does not have any paid employees,” said Sebastian Nerz, chairman of the German Pirate Party, speaking to TorrentFreak. “Everyone working for the party – including myself – is working in an honorary capacity.

“In contrast, Members of Parliament are paid for their work. In addition they receive state money to pay for assistants and co-workers. This will enable those Pirates to work full-time for the party, thus giving us much more work force,” he said.

Germany’s Pirate Party was raided in May by police, who seized the party’s servers while following a French criminal investigation.

More than online rights

Founded in 2006, the Pirate Party originally campaigned on file-sharing and data protection on the Internet, but has since branched out to tackle education and citizen rights. Ahead of the Berlin election, the party also called for free public transport and votes for over-14s, while campaigning against secretive privatisation deals.

The Pirate Party came fifth overall, but won substantially more support than the Free Democrats – Angela Merkel’s coalition partner at the national level – which only won 2 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the centre-left Social Democrats topped the polls with 30 perent.

This marks the biggest victory for the Pirate Party movement since it gained a Swedish MEP in the 2009 European Parliament elections, capturing just over 7 percent of the vote. The Swedish party failed to turn that into success in last year’s General Election. Meanwhile, the German branch has previously gained a few seats in council elections, but has never won anything at state level.

“A number of times I’ve heard, ‘Your party is not relevant because it does not have members of parliament,’” said Nerz. “Following this weekend’s successes, in this respect the party’s position will be greatly improved.”

The UK Pirate Party only managed to attract 1,340 votes across nine seats, or 0.34 percent of the vote, in the last British elections. The party’s John Barron described the result as a “learning experience” and one that would benefit the organisation in the long run.

The news is well timed given that today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So watch out for plenty of pirate-themed updates on Twitter and remember: To err is human. To arr is pirate!