BERLIN - Germany's "Pirates", a kooky band of campaigners for personal liberty, won 8.5 percent of votes in an election in Berlin on Sunday, humiliating major parties such as the Free Democrats, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition.
The Pirates, formed in Sweden 2006, polled more than four times as many votes as the Free Democrats (FDP), according to initial election results, to take their first seats in a German state assembly.
The FDP meanwhile saw its vote slump to just 2 percent from a previous 7.6 percent and lost its seats after missing the 5 percent threshold. The Social Democrats, led by charismatic mayor Klaus Wowereit, won the highest share of the vote.
"This is all very new for us," the Pirates' main candidate, 33-year-old Andreas Baum, told German television. "We will need to prepare, get into the swing of things, but you will be hearing from us -- you can be sure of that."