Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pirates in Berlin

Wow - that was one hell of an election! Berlin has voted for the State Assembly, and we have a new party: The Pirate's Party got 8.5 percent of the vote, pretty much out of nowhere. In Berlin, there is a 5-percent-treshhold to enter the parliament, and they made it. Their victory had been predicted, but not on that scale.

The Pirate's are an anti-establishment party devoted to Internet freedom and personal liberty. It is made up of, lets face it, computer nerds, basically. The party goes back to the Swedish Pirate's Party, is close to Wikileaks. They want the government to hold no secrets, are against cameras in public squares, and want to have votes on about everything on the Internet. They also demand free public transportation and want to legalize marijuana (fairly boilerplate in Germany). Well, that'll be fun.

Other than that, the Berlin mayor, Klaus Wowereit, Europe's first openly gay mayor, by the way, got reelected with 28.5 percent (slight loss). He will not continue to govern with the post-communists, though, because they did not get enough votes; 11.6 percent only. He can choose to work with the Green Party—17.5 percent—or the Christian Democratic Union —23.5 percent—, and he will probably do it with the former.

The Wall Street Journal sold the story as a loss for Angela Merkel, which is not really true. The CDU did, in fact, gain votes, although to not that much, only about 2 percentage points. Also, this election was about local politics. For The Green Party it was a gain as well, but not as much as they had hoped for. Their candidate, Renate Künast will now not become mayor, but that was to be expected as well.

In any case, don't forget the event at Deutsches Haus at NYU in Manhattan about our new book, The Berlin Wall Today, September 20, at 6.30 pm. It is free!

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