Germany's weakened Pirates vow election-year attack

12th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

Germany's Pirate Party vowed an attack on the political mainstream as it wrapped up a congress Sunday, hoping to re-energise a flagging campaign ahead of September elections.

"Please pull your fingers out, dear Pirates!" party chief Bernd Schloemer shouted as he rallied 1,200 mostly youthful delegates at a colourful party meeting in the Bavarian town of Neumarkt.

"Now is the time to have fun, to show joy, to act freely. On the attack!"

The latest poll, by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, gave the protest party four percent -- just below the five percent mark required for entry into parliament.

It was better than the recent lows of around two percent and the same support level as that for the pro-business Free Democrats, the junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right government.

In a frontal offensive against other parties, Schloemer criticised the "Bavarian hordes" of the conservative Christian Social Union, labelled the Greens old-fashioned and dismissed the Free Democrats as "lobbyists".

The Pirates, a proudly anti-party party, have a radical set of demands.

They campaign for a "basic wage" of around 1,000 euros ($1,300) a month for all -- employed, jobless and children alike -- free public transport and the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis.

The party also demands greater transparency in government, wants to protect Internet users better from state surveillance, and to abolish tax ID numbers. It has also demanded free wireless Internet in the capital Berlin.

The Pirates hotly debated whether to maintain an online "permanent party congress" to allow their members to shape party policy through their "Liquid Democracy" platform, but the idea was defeated over online privacy concerns.

The party, born out of the movement of online file-sharers against copyright laws, at its peak polled as much as 13 percent nationwide and has since 2011 gained entry into the Berlin state parliament and three other state assemblies.

But support has since withered amid internal squabbling and public doubts about their political maturity.

The party at the weekend chose a new political director, 26-year-old student and self-styled netizen Katharina Nocun, a self-declared idealist who pledged to unite the party and said that "my promise is that, damn it, I will give everything I have".


© 2013 AFP

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