Pirates sink liberals

In the German state of Saarland, the Pirate Party blasted a massive hole below the watermark of the centrist Free Democrats, the Financial Timesreports, effectively sinking the Christan Democrats’ junior coalition partner in the federal government. With just 1.3% of the votes, the Free Democrats sank below the level parties need to reach in order to win seats in the legislature, while the Pirates — in their first electoral voyage — captured over 7%. Unlike the Greens and the Left Party, who Saarland’s voters left clinging to the wreckage, the Pirates rode an electoral swell all the way into the state parliament. This makes policy-making in the area of intellectual property even more interesting.

Buoying the Pirate Party is the growing popularity of its signature issues, namely Internet freedom, copyright reform, and opposition to the now dead (or resting) Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). The party’s Saarland success is its third noteworthy win in Europe so far, and the resources that come with parliamentary representation seem likely to help the party grow.

How will this affect the European Parliament’s deliberations over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would make it easier for powerful copyright owners to crack down on online infringement? Stay tuned.

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