I’ll quickly deal with the Pirate Party. Easy answer: they’re sort of nuts, but not totally nuts. They are very much into net neutrality and free wifi for everyone. They’re in the regional government in Berlin and the traditional politicians are very irritated and not amused with them.
That should be a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. There’s a German word for that: ‘jein‘…ja and nein combined makes ‘jein‘. Cool, huh?
Other things the Pirates want: free trains for everyone. In Berlin, they want all public transport to be free. Period. Berlin’s a curious place by the way. Compared to the German average, the unemployment rate is astronomical. I’m pretty sure Bremen is higher and the rural areas of Eastern Germany, but Berlin is a major metropolitan/cultural centre…and there are a tonne of young people just hanging out. Nominally employed if not outright begging, and the Pirates are their people. Oh, and the nerds.
The Pirates are essentially the politically party you’d get if you rounded up all the players at a Dungeons and Dragons convention and asked them how they thought government should be run.
The newest thing I heard is that they want government IDs in the future to be printed without gender. I’m not sure what the point of that would be, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it had to do with some wacky future-think that gender roles are the root of our problems. Oh, and to make gender-neutral people feel more comfortable. Uh, ok. Weirdos.
Having said all that, Germany has a history of minor parties gaining traction and becoming less minor parties. Because it’s a parliamentary system, you can be a minor party and still get some sort of say in the way things are run.
The best modern example is the Green Party. Unlike in the US, where the Green Party seems to be a glorified Marijuana Rights conglomerate, the German Greens came about as a political movement in 1968, were roundly loathed by the establishment parties, and then slowly but surely became a part of the political fabric (they weren’t actually a proper political party until 1990).
The Green Party‘s big issues have been protecting/saving the environment and getting Germany off of nuclear power. Over the last several decades, the former has become part of nearly every major party‘s platform. The latter was finally achieved (or is being achieved) when the German public freaked out at the events in Fukushima, Japan last year. The right-leaning conservative party (CDU/CSU) in power finally bowed to the overwhelming pressure that’d been building for roughly forty years and Germany has now vowed to go off of nuclear power.
Some experts say they’re insane for doing so, and there’s definitely a touch of ‘let’s show the world we can engineer this one‘ about it. However, that’s sort of my point.
This Party of Pirates? Are they a bit mad? Sure. They really are.
Do they have a clue how politics works? That’s debatable. It’s certainly naive and presumptuous to say you can succeed at politics without knowing how things are done. But naive and presumptuous are actually two of the things the Pirate Party has going for it.