Pirate Parties Innovate Democracy:

Why Not Start One in Your Town? 

By Shlomo Maital   


   Usually, when an organization is in trouble, it has lots its creativity and needs to innovate, but can’t.  Well, democracy all over the world is in trouble. Nations face tough problems and the conventional democratic process has produced nothing innovative to deal with them.  All it can do is dump old leaders, and recycle even older ones. 


    But – there IS innovation in democracy. It’s called the Pirate Parties and they are gaining ground. They exist, or will soon exist,  in about 40 nations.  The idea is spreading. (The name comes from ‘internet piracy’, the right to property rights on the Internet). 

   The BBC reports that “All across Europe, disgruntled voters are deserting the established parties, and in Germany, it is the Pirate Party they are turning to.   At regional elections at the end of April, they got 8% of the vote, enough to give them seats in the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein, in the far north of Germany. It is the third state in which they now have people in parliament, making law. In Berlin, they have 15 members of the legislature.”

   What IS a Pirate Party? They are unconventional parties that (according to Wikipedia) “support civil rights, direct democracy and participation, reform of copyright and patent law, free sharing of knowledge (Open Content), data privacy, transparency, freedom of information, free education, universal healthcare  … They advocate network neutrality and universal, unrestricted access to the Internet”.   Mostly they are parties that advocate not policies, but processes – using technology to let everyone express their opinions.  It’s a perfect remedy for a world in which some 80 per cent of the population of major nations believe the current system imposes unfair burdens on ordinary people.    Naturally, most of the Pirate Parties’ supporters are young, under age 34.

   Here is a Pirate Party innovation:  “liquid democracy”.   It involves members “making suggestions online which then get bounced around through chat rooms, which they call Pirate Pads, before emerging from cyberspace into the real world as policy”.

  The German Pirate Party says,  “we offer what people want. People are really angry at all other parties because they don’t do what politicians should do. We offer transparency, we offer participation. We offer basic democracy.”

   What is amazing is that the Greens, in Germany, now seem tied with the Pirates!  When the Pirates enter the Bundestag in the next elections, they may be king-makers, because the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats may not form a majority (the Free Democrats’ popularity is collapsing).  Predictably, the Greens are unfuriated by the Pirates. 

    In Greece, in the recent election, the newly-formed Pirate Party formed only in January got 33,000 votes, or 0.5 % .  If Greece goes to new elections, they will get far more. 

   Whatever you think about the Pirates, they are a fresh wind blowing through the stench of old-time party politics.   Why not consider starting a branch in your town?