KIEL, Germany – The German Pirate Party shook up the political establishment in
the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein by winning 8.2 percent of the vote on
Sunday and securing seats in the state legislature. In a Saarland state election
in March, the party received 7.4% of the vote.
Before the election,
Israel’s Embassy in Berlin contacted the Pirate Party to discuss its concerns
about reports of Holocaust denial within the party’s ranks.
success of the Pirates – who advocate unrestricted Internet access and sharing –
across Germany’s political landscape prompted Israel’s Embassy to schedule a
meeting with its top candidate, Torge Schmidt, in the German state of Schleswig-
Holstein in April.
Schmidt told The Jerusalem Post an Israeli diplomat
asked for a meeting with him to “get to know” him and the party.
said the diplomat wanted to know the Pirates’ position on the Holocaust and
denial of the murder of six million Jews.
Schmidt said he told her that
the Holocaust was “horrible” and it should never be repeated.
for Israel’s Embassy in Berlin confirmed to the Post via email that the meeting
He wrote, “The Israeli Embassy conducts a close dialogue with
all political parties in Germany, both on [the] federal and state level. In that
framework we are establishing also a dialogue with the Pirates party which has
become a significant political power in Germany.
That dialogue is based
on the basic fundamentals of Israeli- German relations.”
issued a declaration condemning Holocaust denial at their national party
conference in late April.
According to the resolution, the denial or
playing down of the Shoah, “violates the principles of our party.”
Pirate Party candidate seeking a position on the national board called for
criminal penalties in Germany to be lifted against Holocaust denial. He
eventually did not appear on the list of designated candidates.
Pirate, Dietmar Moews, who sought to be a candidate, criticized “world Jewry”
and caused a large section of Pirates at the national meeting to boo him and
walk out of the convention center.
The Berlin-based office of the
American Jewish Committee (AJC) called on the Pirate Party leadership to condemn
the anti-Semitism within its ranks.
“Anti-Semitic and historical
revisionist statements should have no place in a Democratic party,” said Deidre
Berger, the head of the AJC office. “We expect that the Pirates, like all
others, remain committed to the Democratic consensus.”
the statements of Marina Weisband, a leading Pirate politician, who said that
the party must combat in stronger terms right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and
racism. Weisband, a 24- year-old German Jew, stepped down as party leader in
late April to pursue her psychology degree. She is viewed as a rising political
star and frequently appears in the German media to discuss the Pirates. Her
political activity helped bring the Pirates into the Berlin state
Pirate Party leaders in Kiel told the Post that the party
seeks greater openness on the Internet and in government and is willing to
pursue foreign military intervention if certain conditions are met.
30-year-old Pirate politician Patrick Ratzmann, from Kiel, said people say “we
are merely an Internet party. That is not true. We are a party that uses the
Internet.” He stressed that Pirates want to promote “democracy understanding” in
the school system and a participatory learning process.
Wolfgang Dudda, a
customs police official and Pirate party politician who is set to enter the
state parliament in Kiel, told the Post that “We have a historic responsibility
toward Israel. It is [an] obligation for us.
And we will not give that
After the election victory in Kiel, he wrote the Post via email,
noting “In a hard and unfair, especially at the end, election campaign from the
other parties, the power of democratic renewal based on experience and percent
brought a victory to the Pirate party.”
Dudda, who is well-versed in
foreign policy issues and fighting right-wing extremism in Germany, said the
Pirates see a “responsibility for intervention” in conflicts and the party is
not a pacifist party. He cited conflicts like Rwanda to prevent genocides and
international disputes which allow for the creation of democracy.
stressed that the party’s aim is to create greater transparency in the
That message has resonated among the high numbers of voters
who turned out to support the Pirates.
Schmidt, the top Pirate candidate
in Schleswig-Holstein, told the Post that members voiced criticisms of German
author Günter Grass’s poem last month, which attacked Israel as a main threat to
global peace and largely defended the Islamic Republic of Iran. Grass lives in
the city of Lübeck in Schleswig- Holstein.
It is unclear what the
Pirate’s national policy toward the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis
Pirate politician Angelika Beer, a former Green Party member in the
EU parliament, has raised the eyebrows of EU political observers.
controversial because she pursued strong diplomatic contacts with the Iranian
regime as an EU MP and was viewed by anti-Islamic Republic groups as placating
Tehran’s political leadership.
Dudda and Ratzmann distanced themselves
from a statement from Pirate party Lübeck candidate Manfred Vandersee, who
called on his Facebook page for the state to cut off funds to the Central
Council of Jews in Germany.
Dudda said that Vandersee “made a mistake.”
He said Vandersee seeks to stop state funds for all religious institutions and
he did not clearly think through his statement.
Dudda said the Pirates
are a “social market” party that does not want to see “workers played off
against each other.”
He said 50 percent of the party’s members are
The Pirates have attracted members from the older
established German party’s like Greens, Social Democrats and Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.