As German Pirate Party Hits 10%, Some Thoughts On The Next Five Years

This morning, the German Pirate Party hit double digits in a nationwide poll. That was a landmark event, no matter how you look at it. As the first double-digit poll reverbs in the five-year-old Pirate Party community, I’d like to take some time to reflect on these and the next five years.

Not only is the German Piratenpartei polling at double digits, by the way: they are also in Kingmaker Position, holding the balance of power between the German political blocks. If this was the next election result, that means that they can ask for basically anything and make it happen in Germany and Europe. Next German elections are two years out, but this is already turning a lot of policymaking around.

(Side note: with polls around these numbers, it is imperative that the party leader with support is available to be visible faces of the party on all available media time. While completely not my decision, I would therefore suggest that some of the Berlin money for assistants go to hiring the PPDE federal party leader and one admin person at the federal level. That’s how we did it in PPSE and it has worked well: after all, a Pirate Member of Parliament don’t need an assistant to print their e-mails and tell them what’s happening on Twitter. Same goes for any other PPxx in the same situation. But anyway, that’s beside the point of this article.)


After founding the first Pirate Party, I had expected the PPSE [Pirate Party Sweden] to be alone in the world for the first couple of years, until we had had our first major success (which happened in 2009, in my fourth year as party leader, when we took two seats in the European Parliament and became the largest party for voters under 30). Instead, four sister parties sprung up just in the first week as news of the party’s foundation hit social media — then, meaning mostly Slashdot. Most of the ones in place now already existed by our 2009 success. Today, the Pirate Parties International lists 61 Pirate Parties that have started or are starting — we exist in practically all corners of Europe and the Americas, and with a scattered presence in Asia, too.

At the set-sail, I imagined that five percent in an election would be all that we needed to convert our narrow agenda into actual policy. But as five years have passed, I have realized three connected things:

  • The old parties are not just assaulting free speech and exchange of opinion in general. They are assaulting the entire lifestyle and outlook of success of the entire young generation, turning free market mechanisms into mercantilism and corruption. The venerable kings of the hill are locking their privileges into law, and this goes way beyond copyright and patent monopolies.
  • This means that we are not just a party for the free exchange of TICKS (tools, ideas, culture, knowledge, and sentiments). We are a lifestyle party for the entire younger generation, starting somewhere at 35-40 years of age. This lifestyle — digital natives, as some have called it, or the connected generation which I prefer — is being actively condemned and demonized by the old parties.
  • As a result, the young generation today is feeling completely disenfranchised. (We once had a poster with a girl alone at a laptop, using the same image twice. Under the first, we wrote “ANTISOCIAL” over the image, signed with all the oldparties’ logos. Under the second, we wrote “SOCIAL” and ours.) All of this taken together means that we are not primarily a five-percent party for technical people, but closer to a twenty-percent party for a connected generation, including the technical people. The first sign of this materializing was PPDE’s strong breakout of the five-percent area.

One example of the Hindenburgean policymaking of oldparties is when one of the major Swedish parties left Twitter yesterday, citing “lack of manpower”. One can’t help but wonder if they have manpower to read the news? It’s not lack of manpower, it’s lack of a basic knowledge of today’s conversational landscape. (Translation by Google; not perfect but good enough:)

They call themselves “People’s Party The Liberals”, but have been nicknamed “The Nightstick Liberals” (batongliberaler) by the Net generation, being anything but liberal in the light of that lifestyle.

This is why it’s so important that we show other people that we live our policy. Just as, which we can painfully see above, so do the oldparties. They treat all of the net and the younger lifestyle with disdain, not just second priority, but ninth (somewhere after carbon paper).

So, I feel this movement is starting to ask more questions, relevant questions, that go way beyond the right to exchange of TICKS and the right to PAT (privacy, accountability, and transparency). What is society? What are common obligations, and what are individual rights? With everybody having a voice, I have come to the conclusion that we live in more disruptive times than any in the pre-connected generations has thought possible.

Here are a few examples of things that have emerged as probable policies for the worldwide Pirate Parties:

The job market will turn completely upside down. There are no lifetime employments and barely any fixed employments at all. There are barely any workplaces. Rather, people work where they like with what they like. In cafés, from home. Some projects give money. Others don’t. As long as people get enough money to put food on the plate, most work will be in for other kinds of rewards — peer recognition or impact. This is what I refer to as “the Swarm Economy”, and a precursor is clearly visible in the Open Source economy. Extrapolate it to the entire society. This has three major effects. First, there is no requirement to be loyal to an employer. Second, the strong unions in Europe stand to lose all of their power because of the dismantlement of the structures they depend on — just like there would be no more need for quit-smoking aids if tobacco would disappear overnight. Therefore, the unions will strongly resist these changes, as their current power is more sweet than their ultimate political goal. (Humanity in a nutshell.) Third, we will see some kind of Basic Unconditional Income that rethinks the value of work, recognizing that much of society already depends on unpaid volunteer work. For example, the two key mobile operating systems — iOS and Android — are both built on volunteer work, BSD UNIX and GNU/Linux, respectively. Yet, this volunteer work which builds our entire next-generation industries is not counted as production.

New, stronger and more anti-corruption safeguards. More than ever, there is an understanding — no, an expectation — that power corrupts. We are not immune. No one is.

Energy policy will be rewritten. With some legacy from the Greens and mixing in our own demands for transparency, accountability and evidence-based policymaking, I believe in solar, water, wind, and thorium power; not so much in traditional nuclear uranium power. (Biofuel is an abomination — taking food from the starving to put it in the diesel engines of the rich?) I also believe in strong decentralization of the energy production, both for energy-resilience reasons and anti-corruption ditto. This means that government needs to re-regulate off-grid production to incentivize decentralization; as it is written today in Sweden, at the request of Big Energy (of course), there is no financial incentive at all to make your own energy.

Military doctrine will have to be rewritten. It needs to assume that nothing can be kept secret, with the exception of personal cryptokeys. This is basically a complete rewriting, rethinking and rebuilding of the entire military. And of the diplomatic corps (hello, WikiLeaks). It also implies that accountability to the public will soar to new highs.

As cities have roads and light, so will they have net. It is perfectly reasonable to demand that municipalities provide wireless networking wherever there is already streetlighting. The cost of Wi-Fi is lower than that of streetlighting, and the masts (lampposts) are already there. Some old telcos will protest this, citing unfair competition from the public, to which I say a strong “meh“. The Fire Brigade was once private, too; evolving society realized it was a common interest, and the private fire brigades disappeared. Infrastructure (roads, etc) has always been a public interest.

Tax policy will have to be rethought inside out. In the near future, governments won’t be able to see the wealth, income, or transactions of their citizens. We need to come up with new tax bases, reusing old ones or introducing entirely new ones.

I haven’t updated my “The Pirate Wheel” to reflect this yet, but will in the coming week.

This is just a sample. There is much, much more coming. For a decades-out sample, try the evolving RepRap and imagine when we can make most of our furniture and tools in our homes. Transport needs will shift dramatically, and more kings-of-the-hill will protest venerably. (It is already possible to construct assault rifles at home by downloading public drawings and pressing the “construct” button. If that doesn’t make oldparties scream, what will?)

The Pirate Parties worldwide are in the process of going from “party for tech people” to “party that demands privacy, accountability and transparency, and support for a connected lifestyle”. This is a lifestyle that the oldparties don’t live, and therefore, they don’t — can’t — understand it. This is going to change everything.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Henry Rouhivuori

    Yes, we are now at 1977 when Kraftwerk released a new masterpiece after the megahit; Radioactivity. Moving away from improvised instrumental music to melodic electronic songs; Trans Europe Express. Opening track is about lifestyle indeed.

  2. Per "Wertigon" Ekström

    For example, the two key mobile operating systems — iOS and Android — are both built on volunteer work, BSD UNIX and GNU/Linux, respectively.

    I think it’s funny that you mention these two as volunteer work; the foundation, yeah, that was volunteer work. Android is about as locked as the iOS structure-wise and code-wise though.

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      Except that rooting android and establishing control is a breeze. The proprietary parts make up no more than the bells and whistles – and on the app market you can obtain almost any functionality for free that you’d have to pay very dear money for with an iPhone.

  3. AeliusBlythe

    “The Pirate Parties worldwide are in the process of going from “party for tech people” to “party that demands privacy, accountability and transparency, and support for a connected lifestyle”.

    Thank you for saying this. I have been trying to explain to people how the Pirate Party movement is relevant to those outside hardcore tech circles too. People don’t have to be able to take apart a car engine to use the vehicle in every day life and understand the importance of freedom of movement. Why is other technology any different? Someone doesn’t have to know much about technology to use the internet every day and understand the importance of freedom of communication.

    I _really_ like the description of “lifestyle party.” I think that about sums up why I love this movement. Whereas the older generation sees new technology in terms of fads and degeneration of the old ways, the younger generation sees it as a lifestyle.

    Awesome article. Reblogging…

  4. […] the worldwide Pirate Party movement.  This post, reblogged (proudly and without permission) from, summed up exactly why I believe the Pirate Party movement is important for every single person in […]

  5. I_AM

    This is great, America needs a pirate party too. I have to disagree with the wifi idea, this is microwave radiation that some people cannot live with or others choose not to.

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      You already live in saturation as long as you hit a civilized zone. The WiFi adds perhaps a percent on top of what is already being broadcast all across the spectrum.

      If you count in natural background radiation and cosmic radiation then adding a WiFi network is for all intents and purposes completely irrelevant.

  6. […] that means that they can ask for basically anything and make it happen in Germany and Europe. bertb news feed Link […]

  7. Andi

    Just to clarify: German Law prohibits crossfunding the party from funds that are declared for the Group in the State Parliaments, so what you suggest might be a good idea but is not legally possible ^^


    1. Rick Falkvinge

      It’s the same in most parts of Europe, but there’s usually nothing preventing you from, say, hiring Sebastian as an assistant to the Berlin parliament with the job of spreading the policies to the rest of Germany. That would be what he’s doing anyway.

      That’s how we do it; that’s my job description, formally being an assistant to our Brussels Office. We can’t transfer money from there to some other part of the org either, but we can hire directly.


    2. Rev. Smith

      What Rick said, and that there is nothing stoping you from hiring services from the mother party or the vice versa. And if there is, there are always intermidiaries who can make it happen.
      And the best thing is that this can be a money spiral, where the mother party buys services from the local parties. This would be extremely illegal if done within a CORPORATE group, but since there is no “Konzern situation”, there are no laws (to my knowledge) that prohibit this, hence it is legal.

      1. Scary Devil Monastery

        “This would be extremely illegal if done within a CORPORATE group,”

        Actually, no. If a sales organization within one corporation needs services from another part of the sales organization then they purchases those services using their budget.

        The point is simply that a local party requires the use of an employee as coordinator and liaison which is, i believe, actually more standard than otherwise if you look at ANY political party.

  8. […] Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, says that if the party does take that amount of support into the next German general election, then it could make itself the balance in a coalition. However, such an election is still two years away. […]

  9. […] Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, says that if the party does take that amount of support into the next German general election, then it could make itself the balance in a coalition. However, such an election is still two years away. […]

  10. Cesar

    I have been thinking a bit about the tax policy part.

    What are taxes for? They are (or should be) used mostly to finance shared infrastructure and services. Things like hospitals, roads, and so on.

    Things like Wikipedia’s fundraisings show that people will contribute to shared infrastructure or services if they see the need. So, combining with the Internet’s ability to allow for greater transparency, how about this idea:

    A website is created to list in detail things which need funding (for instance, there is a need of US$ x for maintenance of road y, here is the detailed budget which shows how it will be spent, and we have already secured US$ z for it). People can give how much they want to as many things as they want, and add comments if they feel the need to.

    The same website is also used to follow in detail the progress of whatever was funded, including how much was spent and on what. If there is money left over at the end, the ones who gave it originally could decide on which other project it would be spent (or perhaps even get it back).

  11. PiratGurra

    “The venerable kings of the hill are locking their privileges into law, and this goes way beyond copyright and patent monopolies.”

    That’s just as I view it too! Today’s “kings of the hill” – music labels, printing press business et.c. are desperately defending their position and their status – much like the guilds were right in the initiation of the industrial revolution. If they are allowed to rule in the future – no one knows what inventions and entrepreneurship we and the coming generations will be robbed of. Just as we wouldn’t know what we would have missed out on if the industrial revolution had been successfully thwarted…

    Back in the middle ages, totalitarian regimes such as despotism and monarchy and lack of democracy was used to stay in power. It would be really gullible to assume that the industries of today would not try that same tactic – probably hiding it under the guise of “combating terrorism” and other seemingly noble causes.

    1. PiratGurra

      Oh, I forgot the child porn tactic. So extremely cynical of them. Just demonstrates how much fear-mongering these repulsive businesses are ready to try.

      Fully comparable to the extent the Catholic church prosecuted and killed scientists in the 1500-1600. Some of the brightest minds of that time were destroyed just to protect the power of the current elite.

  12. steelneck

    When you mention the RepRap i believe you are thinking waay too small. Imagine instead a “RepRap” that is in the size of a city block and 6 stories high, a “printer” with a queue where anyone can send their code, getting it “printed” and then sent home. It is all just a matter of standardization and would be possible to realize today. There is no new technology what so ever that needs to be invented for this to happen. Just a change in thinking, and some protectionist law that need to be changed.

    This also connects to your point of job markets and energy, but has also a lot to do with raw materials and the change it constitutes to the transportation sector (and thus a fair bit of the greens agenda). I do believe that you have some more thinking to do.

  13. […] pumpa honom så mycket jag kunde på hur man ser på Piratenpartei nu när de plötsligt ligger på 10% i opinionsmätningarna i hela Tyskland. Även om det inte alls är någon officiell ståndpunkt från någon är det i alla fall en […]

  14. Ben

    I don’t see an acknowledgement of the elephant in the room. My OECD friends estimate that something like 80% of all capital investments in the history of humanity have been spent on Internet infrastructure. My gut says the number is not quite that high (low two-digit trillions per year at most), but funding current and future investments in this medium (and particularly the long-haul sections) will be an even greater challenge without significant concentrations of capital.

    1. PiratGurra

      Well it’s very interesting, since the main gains with the internet (for society in the long run) will be in removing old inefficient ways of doing business – and not primarily in creating new ones. It will be a really exciting time to experience to try and help find new businesses to bridge the workforce “void” that the epic fail of copyright legislation is going to create.

  15. […] Falkvinge’s description of Pirate supporters would apply equally to Occupy supporters: We [Pirates] are a lifestyle party […]

  16. Putte

    I don’t like the term “lifestyle party”. It sounds like PP is a slackterism fad choice by people who view their political position as some kind of trendy accessory. Like joining a Facebook group to feel morally superior but without any intention of doing anything else to support the various “good causes”.

    PP is bloody serious. It is about defending fundamental civil rights, freedom and the rule of law.

    1. Bonk!

      “PP is bloody serious. It is about defending fundamental civil rights, freedom and the rule of law.”
      If they are so serious why do PP mostly act as bufooons and why are their organization run by jerks?

      1. PiratGurra

        So you think you know who “runs the organization”. Are you sure you understand what’s going on?

        1. Scary Devil Monastery

          Bonk!’s previous commentaries run in the style of one-liners containing one or two direct or implicit ad hominems and nothing else.

          Given this it’s very hard to determine what it is he claims to know, where he knows it from, except that most of what he says seems to stem directly from a very low personal opinion regarding Falkvinge and a very high opinion regarding his own capabilities.

          I.e. he simply keeps repeating “You’re wrong and stupid because I said so. Nyah!”.

          It’s very hard to debate with a person whose main argumentation is name-calling, and most people here have already stopped trying.

  17. PAHT-Y


  18. […] believes the global Pirate Party has evolved – and continues to evolve – to meet a changing […]

  19. […] Excerpted from Rick Falkvinge: […]

  20. Christoffer

    Interesting that the German Pirates seem to draw its increased support from both the Greens (left) and the FDP (right). Both parties have progressive voters and both have declined as Piraten has risen to prominense. It really says a lot about the pirat movement as progressive and with by-partisan appeal, drawing support from across the political spectrum.

  21. k2

    One tax the pirate movement really should take a look at is Henry Georg´s old, but today regarded as new I´d say, idea of the single tax on land – The land value tax. This would solve so many of the current problems facing society today. You can combine it with pollution taxes and if you want taxes on consumtion or production. It is often talked about in the same context as the idea of a basic income grant.

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