Germany's Pirate Party has ended its congress with a call to finally gain Bundestag seats in upcoming elections. It hopes an expanded campaign platform and a new top candidate can push it above the 5-percent threshold.
Three days of marathon deliberations at the Pirate Party congress in northern Bavaria ended on Sunday with a call for party members to give Germany something more than its other parties can offer. Party leaders mapped out their campaign platform under the pressure of rekindling the growing support it enjoyed last year in state politics.
Pirate Party head Bernd Schlömer rattled off defects of the country's major parties -ranging from nepotism, to misguided policy making, to favoring lobbies, to simply becoming out-of-date.
"The other parties have gotten [too] comfortable," Schlömer told the 1,200 members in attendance in Neumarkt on Sunday.
The Pirate Party, widely known for its emphasis on Internet rights and policies aimed at bringing Germany into the digital age, experienced a drop in popularity following its win in three state parliaments last year. However, a survey by the Sunday publication "Bild am Sonntag" gave the Pirates a 4-percent popularity rating, the same as Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal coalition partner, the FDP.
"We're going to put an end to this. Pirates, to the Bundestag."
Pirates define themselves
Over the weekend, members at the congress voted on a number of issues for their federal election campaign pledges.
In addition to efforts aimed at protecting Internet users and data from spyware, the congress pledged to advocate a minimum wage of between 9.02 and 9.77 euros ($11.71 and 12.69, respectively) and the gradual introduction of a basic income for all citizens.
While party leaders worked to give the public a better idea of their stance on domestic and international issues, they failed to reach a consensus on their hallmark issue - the introduction of the so-called "perpetual online general meeting." The measure won a majority, but failed to gain the required two-thirds vote.
Supporters of the concept want to move party conventions online in order to create a larger arena for all of its members to participate in policymaking, while also increasing the time available to address proposals. Critics worry about anonymity and data privacy.
"These are tools which should add to the German political landscape," Schlömer said, adding the majority vote was a positive sign that the topic wouldn't disappear soon.
At the start of the congress on Friday, members elected Katharina Nocun, 26, as its new political director and top candidate.
Johannes Ponader, the Pirates' former political director, resigned following continued disagreements with Schlömer over the party's direction for the September elections.
kms/dr (AFP, dpa)