Germany's Pirate Party used a party convention in the north of the country on Saturday to elect a new leader and attempt to allay concerns about alleged right-wing extremist sentiments within the fledgling political movement.
The almost 1,500 delegates to the party conference in Neumünster elected Bernd Schlömer as the party's new chairman. Schlömer, who until now had been the deputy to party chairman Sebastian Nerz, beat his former boss, taking 66 percent of the vote.
Oddly, at 56 percent, Nerz also got the votes of more than half the delegates, something that doesn't appear to add up at first glance. However the system of voting used at the convention makes this possible. Each delegate had the option of voting for one, all or several of the eight candidates.
Schlömer pledged to motivate party members to get actively involved in the political process.
"I plan to promote more cooperation and togetherness," he said.
However he declined to comment on possible future coalition partners, saying the party first needed to concentrate on getting members elected to parliament.
The Pirate Party already has members in the Saarland and Berlin state assemblies and opinion polls suggest it is on track to get at least the five percent of votes required to enter the legislatures in next month's elections in the states of Schleswig Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia.
The convention also voted on a number of housekeeping issues, approving a proposal to expand the number of positions on the party executive from seven to nine and rejecting an attempt to change the term the party's leader is elected for from the current one year.
The only thing discussed that was remotely related to any sort of policy issue was a resolution on the Holocaust.
"The Holocaust is an indisputable part of history. To deny or qualify it under the veil of freedom of opinion runs counter to the party's principles," read the resolution, which was adopted virtually unanimously by the delegates.
This came after one of the party's members had told journalists reporting on the convention that there was room for discussion on the Holocaust. This led to a break in the day's proceedings, after which the resolution was approved.
pfd/jm (dpa, AFP)