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Back in 2009 it looked like Piratpartiet was the frontrunner of the international pirate movement. While Piratenpartei did have a good result in the European election, getting .9%, the Swedes gained a whooping 7.1%, and sent one MEP into the European Parliament (2 after the Lisbon treaty came into effect).
Fast forward 3 years, and the roles of the two biggest Pirate Parties are reserved. Ever since 2009, Piratpartiet did not get more than 1% in any election it took place, while Piratenpartei, gaining 2% of the votes for the Bundestag election, also in 2009, was usually in this range until the 2011 Berlin state parliament election, where they turned politic reality upside down in Germany, winning 8.9% of the vote.
Even though most of the media as well as most of the politicians from other parties claimed that this was most likely due to Berlin being a special case (Urban, lots of people who ‘do stuff with media’ for a living, lots of hipsters, the Greens having a particularly plain and boring election campaign) Piratenpartei was able to get 7.4% in the subsequent Saarland state parliament election, and is now poised to also make it into the North-Rhine-Westfalian and Schleswig-Holsteinian state parliaments, if poll numbers are to be believed. Saarland is a totally different place than Berlin, often seen as rural and boring (even though, as Berlin, it usually votes more for left-wing parties than the rest of the Western German states).
How come Piratenpartei is now in the limelight of political attention in Germany, while Piratpartier slipped back into invisibility (at least if you go by polls)? I think this is down to a discussion within Piratenpartei in 2010: Should the party stick with what they know well, concentrating on IT topics like privacy on the Internet or copyright reform? Or should it try to get a broader footing. Since there is a 5% threshold to enter parliaments in Germany on the state (Bundesland) and national (Bundestag) levels, it was decided that a political needed to try to find answers to other pressing topics if it was to scare the other parties into changing their political programme more to our liking.
I think that, for now, this is the most striking difference between PPSE and PPDE. The German pirates subsequently tried to develop a new approach to politics based on which positions to a much broader array of topics could be developed. This mainly started on the local levels, and in municipal elections between 2009 and 1011 PPDE did remarkably well in some urban places, which resulted in know-how in political campaigning as well as a bigger number of citizens becoming aware of the party, its aims, and, most importantly, the individuals that stand behind the party.
In contrast, the Swedes tried to focus on student towns and national elections, and chose not to engage citizens on every level of their live, be they connected to the Internet or not. In light of the German succes Piratpartiet now is in the process of slowly expanding their programme, the fact that PPSE president Anna Troberg does not have a technical background, but one rooted in humanities is telling, and one could argue that education will become more and more rooted in and engaged with technology, anyways so it is a natural fit for any Pirate Party programme. Whether this will result in PPSE expanding their programme as far as PPDE will have to be seen, but whether to expand the programme further than topics rooted in IT is a problem most Pirate Parties will have to face, especially if Piratenpartei continues to be so succesfull and the other Pirate Parties will be compared to PPDE. There certainly is the danger that people agree with most topics on such an extended programme but the one topics the movement was founded on, such as in this article.