Pirate Party WINS in Saarland Elections, Enters Parliament

As all the votes have been counted, the Pirate Party has won seats in the Saarland parliament, finishing at 7.4% in today’s election. This is an enormous feat that the Saarland Piratenpartei has achieved: having a re-election dropped in your lap with a post-it saying “elections in 60 days” is tough. It’s a near-impossible stunt to succeed with for a challenger activist party. The Saarland Pirate Party has not just beaten the 5% threshold, but passed high above it in style.

With all of the districts counted, the Piratenpartei in Saarland has achieved 7.4% of the vote, way above predictions of 5-6 per cent. SEVEN point FOUR!

There are 51 seats in Saarland’s parliament. With all the votes counted, we see that the Piratenpartei has won four seats, twice that of the Green Party. The FDP party has been effectively eliminated, clocking in at a mere 1.2%, which will pose problems for Angela Merkel’s CDU next year.

This is the third parliamentary success of the Pirate Party, after the Swedish Piratpartiet’s success in the European Elections in 2009 under my leadership at the time, followed by the Berlin Piratenpartei’s success in its state elections last year.

Saarland is Germany’s smallest state, located in the southwest, against the border of France. It has just over one million people and is a typical industrious region. Germany is a federation of sixteen such states, bringing the total between them to 82 million people and Europe’s largest country.

What do we learn from this?

First, Saarland pirates rock, being able to pull this off. That is all. Overall, the German Piratenpartei appears to have found very solid footing. If the Pirate Party can win in this area and under these tough circumstances, there’s quite simply nowhere we can’t win.

Second, this is the third parliament that the Pirate Party movement takes seats in, winning over five per cent of the vote in proportional elections. That shows that we’re very far from a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, but are building our strength as a political-power-to-be over the coming decades.

Third, this will change technology policy and net legislation in a progressive direction. Not just in Saarland and Germany short-term, but also in all of Europe mid-term, as the other political players realize that they need to change their policies to not lose more votes to the Pirate Party.

Fourth, would all those who keep saying that the Pirate Party can impossibly succeed because of its a) name, b) post-industrial policies, c) transparent, non-hierarchic, inclusive culture, or d) all of the above or onion soup – would all of those people please leave the stage now, left or right, as per your own choice: just leave. While you were complaining it can’t be done, we were busy taking seats in parliaments. Saarland clocking in this high above the threshold in the face of such difficult circumstances shows that there’s absolutely nothing we can’t do.

Fifth, this means the Pirate Party movement gets an influx of very welcome resources. Every person who can work full-time enables thousands and thousands of more activists in the pirate swarm. Before the European Elections, there were three full-time pirates in Sweden: myself, the now-party-leader Anna Troberg, and now-MEP Christian Engström. After the European Elections, there were six: myself, Ms. Troberg, Mr. Engström, his on-site assistant Henrik Alexandersson, and the chairman and secretary of the Swedish Youth Wing, Ung Pirat. (To be honest, I’m not sure exactly when they were hired, but it was somewhere around there.) Then, there were the Berlin elections, and the second Swedish MEP took office with her assistants. Overall, from 2008 to 2012, we’ve increased the number of full-time pirates from 3 to about 45. This comes with a corresponding scale growth in the surrounding swarm. The Saarland success brings another ~10 full-time pirates supporting the overall swarm, plus funding.

(With full-time here, I mean that food and rent is not a worry, meaning that you’re free to focus on political activism as much as you like. The Berlin parliament is formally part-time, for example, but with a part-time pay that appears to be enough to pay for food and rent for full-time activism. We’re all doing this 60-100 hours a week anyway, so the part-time concept is kind of a bad fit.)

Heute sind wir alle Saarländer. Klarmachen zum Ändern!

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. larry pete

    maybe you want to mention, that there will be two more elections in Germany in May.
    Schleswig-Holstein on the 6. May, the most northern state to the border of Denmark (where I am going to vote), and Nordrhein-Westfalen the state with the highest population. Both are afaik around 5-6% in current polls.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Yup, I wanted to cover that in a follow-up post. First, I wanted to unreservedly congratulate the Saarland activists on a job supremely well done.

      I’ll be at the Wahlparty in Kiel for the Schleswig-Holstein election, by the way.


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  3. nottinhill

    AFAIK it’s the 2nd not the third parliament in Germany. You might want to correct that in your article.
    Thanks, a Pirate.

    1. LennStar

      swedish is inclueded, so 1+2 😉

  4. nottinhill

    It was the 2nd Parliament in Germany, not the 3rd, you might want to errata that. Thanks

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      It’s the third parliament overall – after the European Parliament and the Berlin Parliament.

    2. Lutoma

      “Pirate Movement”, not ” the german Pirates”. And it’s absolutely correct to say the pirate movement entered 3 parliaments (European Parliament, Berlin, Saarland)

  5. LennStar

    7.3% is the last count, which should be final counting I thing for normal votes (there are letter votes which will be counted after, and recounting… but +/-0.1%).

    Thats 1% more then I personally thought, yeah!

    Schleswig-Holstein and Northrhine-Westfalia are very interesting. Not only are the Pirates there already at 6% in February (Saarland:4%), but also there are 2 partys which were under 5% threshold (Linke (left) and FDP (neoliberal).
    If they both fail (and at least FDP will – got 1,3% in Saarland now, nearly smashed through the ground ^^ ), that means there are 4 parties only in both states – CDU (christian), SPD (workers), Greens and – Pirates. That also means more seats then only X% of seats, because seats of under 5% parties are redistributed.

    NRW is also a “small Germany” poll (biggest state) and often dicides policy.

    1. LennStar

      More interesting facts: 25% to Pirates from the people who voted the first time, and 28% of the voters didn’t vote the last time.
      = half of the votes are “new” votes.
      -> Pirates are good for democracy 😉

      1. Rick Falkvinge

        That’s certainly an interesting detail. The Swedish PP had the exact same proportion of voters under 30 in the European Elections of 2009: 25%. We also had an almost identical result then, 7.13%.

    2. larry pete

      I have to mention, that Schleswig-Holstein has a special case. The SSW party is a party that represents the interests of the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein and because of that the 5% threshold won’t be applied to the SSW.
      That’s why the SSW has to be counted in there too for Schleswig-Holstein.

      SSW = Südschleswigsche Wählerverband (dan.: Sydslesvigsk Vælgerforening)

      1. Squig

        If we want to be a 100% correct, SSW is not only the Danish party, but also represents the interests of the Frisian minority in Schleswig-Holstein.

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  7. egal

    Some statistics by the Tagesschau:

    Votes for the Saarland Pirates by age:
    18-24: 22%
    25-34: 16%
    35-44: 10%
    45-59: 6%
    60+: 2%

    Shift of voters to the Saarland Pirates:
    CDU: 4000
    SPD: 3000
    Linke: 7000
    FDP: 4000
    Greens: 3000
    Non-Voters: 8000

    Opinions about the Pirates Saarland by the Pirate-Party-voters of the Saarland:
    94% think the Pirates are a good alternative for non-voters
    84% think they’re a good alternative to the established parties

    Opinions about the Pirate Party by all voters:
    62% think the Pirates are a good alternative for non-voters
    55% think the Pirates take care about what younger people want
    26% think they’re knowing what the Pirates politically want
    18% think the Pirates are reliable

    1. Andrew Robinson

      I find the “18% think the Pirates are reliable” a very interesting statistic, because reliability and trustworthiness are actually some of our biggest strengths, and we can easily convince the voting public of this by our actions once elected. I look forward to seeing how much the vote has grown in the next Saarland election once the electorate knows that our dedication and commitment to openness are more than just empty promises.

  8. […] Fuente Blog de Rick Falkvinge […]

  9. c3l3st0

    i really hope that the PP will be taken seriously in the future, because the only thing in the news until now is that they (i might want to say “we”) are not just nerds and geeks as it is told in most media coverages, we are people, we know how the system works, we stand for what we say!

    klarmachen zum entern!

  10. […] siamo tutti Saarlander.  Preparatevi a cambiare!) Fonte: http://falkvinge.net/2012/03/25/pirate-party-wins-in-saarland-elections-enters-parliament/ Licenza CC0: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ Traduzione a cura di yanfry per […]

  11. Artemiy

    Congratulations, Pirates! 😀
    Too bad that Russian Pirate Party (Пиратская Партия России) was not allowed to compete in parliament elections in Russia…

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      I read about that – because of the name being “pirate”, correct?

      Now there’s a stiff-necked bureaucracy for you…

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  14. Mab

    The President and General Secretary of the Young Pirates of Sweden turned into paid positions in February 2009 (the General Secretary was only paid part time until April 2009) thanks to a three year long process of getting into the system of Swedish state funding of youth organizations. So it was indeed as Rick describes pretty close to the EU elections and gave a very useful boost of morale for the young pirates (and I would dare to say also the party in general) just in time for when the EU campaigning started for real.

  15. Wayne Borean

    I’ll post this on the Balanced Copyright for Canada Astroturf Group. I like to keep those people on their toes.


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  20. Rafinius

    I have an urgent question. How much does the german Piratenpartei actually adhere to the pirate wheel and especially the more radical ideas included in it? They seem a far more moderate party concentrated on general democratization (as in partially approaching direct democracy) and seem to only want partial changes in copyright law. Generally they seem like an strongly moderate counterpart to what you (Rick) propose. That is at least the feel I get from the different speeches on youtube by their political leaders. Don’t get me wrong, its better than nothing, but it is still kind of dissapointing after reading all these radically clear articles here on falkvinge.net

    1. Rafinius

      For anyone who cares, here are the videos that made me notice this and got me to look into it more. (In german). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J58X2uuhszw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AFr_L70nQI

      1. Squig

        I’d say you got it right. But I am not certain whether the Swedish Pirates follow Rick in everything he does thematically either.

        Also, please take in mind the conceptualization of the Pirate Wheel was done quite recently (if I got it right), so PPDE would not even have a theoretically chance to incorporate it into their daily politics.

    2. LennStar

      For sure the german PP is not the most radical. But on the other side, they are the most sucessful 😉

      GPP has made a big program compared to other PP’s. “copyright” is only a small part in line count. But what do you understand under “partial changes”? (and do you mean copyright (UK+US) or the kontinental (german terms) “Urheberrecht” which is a) “Verwertungsrechte” (=copyright) AND “Urheberpersönlichkeitsrechte” (additional rights, cannot be sold)?)
      Nobody I think wants to abolish the possibility for authors to get paid. Thats Copyright.
      German Pirates work on the principles of free flow of information and platform neutrality – in all parts of politics (That is not official, it’s only what I and several others think are the inherent, if mostly unspoken, principles.). From that many things can be though.

    3. Andi

      Which is probably the reason they are more successful, because they aren’t that radical and can get more people to vote for them. Your radical positions aren’t worth anything if you can’t translate them into votes.

  21. Simon Stützer

    A very interesting observation from “Infratest dimap” a well established institute on psephology wanted to know, why the people have voted for Pirates and asked them: Which its the most important topic for theire decision.

    The answer in Saarland was ”social justice“, like in Berlin in 2011 elections as well.



    It should influence our thinking about the program of all pirate partys.
    The digital revolution, like every great evolution as well, brings up the question on freedom AND social justice. We can’t answer one topic, ignoring the other!

    Best regards

  22. […] Europe. In Germany, the local elections of Sunday, March 25, 2012, allowed the party to enter the parliament of Saarland after an earlier victory admitted it to the Berlin Parliament. This result has inspired its French […]

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