Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Are There Lessons Here For The UK?
As a watcher of German politics it's no surprise to learn that 40% of Germans would vote for a Eurosceptic party. I would have thought the figure would be higher considering the festering resentment many feel about their leaders continually bailing out other countries which they consider to have been less than honest from their initial application to be admitted into the wonderful world of the European Union.
During the past few years the Greens have been Germany's protest party but they have now been sidelined by new rebels - the Pirate party.This past weekend elections took place in Berlin and the results stunned the Greens who lost 17,000 of their supporters to the Pirates, more than came from any other party. The SPD lost 14,000 voters and the far-left Left Party 13,000. However, its biggest coup was in its ability to attract 23,000 people to the polls who had never voted before.
Who are the new rebels on the German political scene? The Pirate party was founded in 2006. They've been described as a protest party, a group of computer nerd misfits and perhaps even a joke and it's been asked how could a single-issue party, made up largely of 20-something men, really be serious about politics. The Pirates campaigned on issues concerning internet freedoms and digital privacy along with demands for free urban transportation, a guaranteed minimum income for all and a student-teacher ratio in public schools of 15:1. Teacher/pupil ratios in many German schools are much lower than the UK but I can find no evidence which shows that this issue is of particular priority to many Germans.
Now 15 Pirates are set to enter Berlin's regional parliament after receiving an astonishing 8.9% of the vote and is being hailed as the most surprising political success stories Germany has seen in recent years.
Are there lessons here for the UK?