I was astounded to see that we made the news on the Reddit front page today with our city declaring a Nazi emergency. I posted a comment that people can ask me if they have any questions about this but got the suggestion to do an AMA since it would probably get buried there.
Here's a short summary of what happened:
This March we won one seat in the local election, along with of course some other parties. We formed (as of right now unofficial) parliamentary group with two other members from two other parties. We all do share a very libertarian and social view on things, although this might differ from the definitions of these words as you have in the USA. A few days ago, we wanted the city to declare a "Climate emergency", as other cities done in Germany, which got rejected. This week we proposed to declare a "Nazi emergency", which got approved by the majority of the parliament.
If you have questions about this proposal, what it entails, about political work in Germany (as part of a smaller party) or about the Pirate Party movement/the Pirate Party in Germany... well, ask me anything!
Proof I am a member of the Pirate Party (Piratenpartei Deutschland): https://imgur.com/EUlxkkz
Here you can see I am a member of the party executive committee (in German): https://www.piraten-dresden.de/partei/vorstand/
Why declare it an emergency, specifically? What actions does such a declaration empower the government to take?
Because the urgency of the situation makes it necessary and sends a signal that the city acknowledges this urgency. The urgency becomes clear if you take a look at the increase of criminal actives, especially regarding violence, that has happened over the past few months and years. But of course it also has a signaling character: Elections this year, especially in Saxony (our state), have shown that the far right is on the rise. They are still far from being the most powerful group here but people are afraid, and rightly so, given the history of our country.
The declaration in and of itself of course does more than simply stating that "we have a problem". It empowers the city to take measures and focus on issues regarding right-wing activities, including but not limited to:
There are more points the declaration consists of, but I really struggle to correctly translate them all into correct English, I am sorry. If you understand German, you can take a look at them here (PDF).
To summarize, it's not only a declaration - there are measures we want to undertake and hope to fulfill in the next few years. Of course, the details need to be ironed out, but this is expected of a political process such as this. We hope that this marks a starting point this process. We do have the majority of the parliament behind this, so chances are pretty good. Making this happen now is not only the task of the local parliament but also the different committees which specialize in the different areas that this includes (infrastructure, culture, education etc.).
What is the situation in Dresden like, for the majority of parliament to approve of a Nazi emergency and reject a climate emergency? I'm curious because declaring a climate emergency has prior precedent with other cities doing it and climate change being in the news more recently, making me think it would be easier to pass such a thing since it's a hot topic lately. So it does make me wonder how pressing the situation is of the rise of the far right in Germany is, for this to be passed and declared.
I noticed in comments on the threads about the nazi emergency that people were referring to your party as a satire party - would you call this an accurate description? It sounds like you guys do have defined political views and do get involved in politics more than just bringing attention/satirising politics, which is what I might have assumed from such a label. Has it been hard to be taken seriously as a smaller party and one with such a name/views?
Lastly, I also want to know if you guys get pirate hats to wear.
Hey there, thanks for those thorough questions. Let's see:
1) So normally we do have more right leaning and more left leaning parties. They both split the local parliament almost half in half. When the climate change emergency got voted on, two of the left leaning members voted against it, which made it fail very closely. Their reasoning behind this: they want to be careful with the word "emergency", because emergency acts played a huge part in getting Hitler to power. But, in my opinion at least, this was completely different, since the constitution in the so called "Weimarer Republic", which helped Hitler to seize power, is very different from the modern one we do have. Surprisingly though, with the "Nazi emergency" we got support from some - typically - more right leaning parties and members of the parliament, which led to majority voting for it. Please bear in mind that I use "left" and "right" very loosely here, to help me simplify the explanation. Also, left and right are defined differently here than in other countries like, for example, the USA.
2) You got that mixed up :) Although I can see why you think that the "Pirate Party" is the satirical one, we are in fact not. The "Pirate Party" movement started in 2006 in Sweden as a party for "digital natives", focusing on internet and technology aspects of politics, which have both been very much selected. To this day, our spectrum broadened and digital, while still an important part of our politics, is one of many. We are successful in many different European countries, manly in the Czech Republic and Iceland, but also here in Germany we do have members in many different local parliaments.
Now the party you're talking about is "DIE PARTEI" (meaning "THE PARTY" in English). Yes, they are a satirical party, but they do promote their work really good and they do make good politics. Often with a front of satire but behind this is more often than not a very social and liberal intention. One member is part of the (unofficial) parliamentary group in Dresden together with one member of our party and another of a third party. This parliamentary group is the one who proposed this "Nazi emergency". The one from DIE PARTEI is the person who originally initiated it. In the end, it was a team effort, but the media likes to take the spin that sells best and in this case it's that this comes from the satirical party. They deserve it, though.
I'm just here by accident, because I saw the post on the front page and made this AMA in reaction to it.
Why is the far right attracted to Dresden so much, when so many other cities were destroyed during WWII? And what in your opinion is the cause of the far right's rise in Germany and in Europe?
That is a very good question which I can't even fathom to answer correctly in full. But I will try to give my view of this.
Let me start from top to bottom: The far right's rise in Germany and in Europe (and in the USA, for that matter) stems from many things but one of the bigger ones is globalism in combination with capitalism. That sounds like socialist propaganda to many, but let me explain: If you look at election statistics, you will see that right wing leaning is far more frequent in rural areas, be it Germany or almost any country. Our modern world leaves this rural areas behind, people are flocking to the cities whereas rural towns and villages get left behind. The price of living goes up, even there, but there's not enough work or it's not paid enough. And whereas many "city people" grow up to be more cosmopolitan these days that is often not the case for people from rural areas. There is a real difference in mentality here. This and the feeling of "being left behind" lets people turn to other solutions, to turn their back to big politics and cooperation - a role which is often filled by far right, nationalist or even fascist groups or parties.
Why Dresden especially? Well, it's not Dresden itself. Or only part of it. Dresden is a very large city by area (in German standards at least) and many parts of the city are so far out they are in fact rural towns themselves. But this is only one part of the equation. Dresden is the capital of Saxony, a so called "new" state, because it was part of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). The far right is especially active here and finds many followers. This also has many reasons, one of them being that Saxons are a proud people with a rich history, so nationalism is stronger here than in many other states. But also of course because many people of the former GDR feel "betrayed". In 1989, they thought they were finally free, the wall fell and now everything would get better. Instead though, capitalism took over. Many people lost their job and the ripples are still felt today. Even right now, the difference in net income between East and West Germany is at around 8%. These people are disappointed, since the "Wende" didn't give them what they hoped for and many feel that they were better of then than they are now (which, in some cases, is surely correct).
Of course, the GDR was doomed but still many, especially older people, want to have the good old times back. They weren't as free, they couldn't get as much stuff, but they were content and the world was easier. This is where the far right swoops in, criticizing the current establishment and campaigning with promises they will do everything differently. How they do it and what is probably too much for this answer, which already got out of hand text-wise now that I read it again, but I hope this answers your question (at least partly).
what % is this 'party' out of all parties? in this nations and other nations
You mean, how many percent of the votes we get? We're but a small party, mostly active in local governments. This is mostly the only chance for small parties to get a foot in parliament politics, since we do have a "5% barrier" for all state and country elections. It's shame, though, because I believe political diversity is important, even if this would mean some far-right outliers would get a seat.
So, to answer your question, below 5% in most of the bigger elections. We got 1 seat in the EU parliament from Germany and 3 more from the Czech Republic, where the Pirate Party is pretty successful and part of the national parliament (and also of the parliament in Prague, where the mayor is also a Pirate). In Iceland the party is also part of the national parliament.
There are many Pirate Parties in different European countries, organized under the European Pirate Parties (PPEU) and world wide under the International Pirate Parties (PPI).
Hi, thanks for doing this AMA!
I'm curious, what's your opinion on universal basic income for Germany (and potentially other countries). I've heard different opinions from different members of the Pirate Party. Where do you stand on this issue?
I fully support the idea of a universal basic income. As does the majority of the party here in Germany, since this is part of our program and was voted in by our members.
I strongly believe that in a few years the way we view at work will change drastically. Industrial revolution and the rise of Information technology up until will be nothing compared against what awaits us here. AI, intelligent software, robots - this will drastically change many industries. And not only factories and productions, but also in the service sector. This will mean that many jobs as we know it today won't exist anymore. And this is a good thing, a very good thing! Or rather, it can be. If the whole of society profits from this change, as it should. Tools should be there to make the lives of people easier. But as of right now, if it goes on like this, many people will lose their livelihood and will have nothing. So we need something to correct this, and an universal basic income could be the correct answer.
is your party named after the edelweiss pirates?
No, the Pirate Party movement started 2006 in Sweden, with a digital and copyright focused agenda. The name comes from "pirates" on the internet, especially "The Pirate Bay".
So basically what you're telling me is that pirates and nazis are going to war, and it's going down in germany?
What? No... it course it's not like..
You know what? Sure. That's how it is ;)
Do you think that the far-right will rise again in Germany and Europe to the extent it did in the past? If so, can it be stopped?
Yes, I think this entirely possible. I'm no history expert, but if you read some books and listen to some podcasts by experts, you will recognize the patterns. And it's not like it's something remotely similar, we are talking about details here - speech patterns, populism, seeing the "left" as the universal evil and so on. We surely are better prepared for this, especially in Germany. I really hope that the far-right reached their peak here.
This is also why I hope that this is preventable. Of course we do have a big movement on the other side, not only left but also center, libertarian and so on. This often gets drowned in the media only talking about the far-right, but as of today they still are a minority. This of course is different in other countries, for example Poland, where the current government is far-right and already starting with oppressive measures - e.g. with their new law that threatens teachers with up to 3 years of jail time if the teach anything about sexual education.
It's.. a sad future, combined with climate change, we are looking at right now. But it's very, very important to not give up. Hitler gained power not because he had a majority of followers but because his opponents (in politics, industry and people) gave up, let it happen or worked with him. So the important thing is to keep up, and not give up. If we do, I see a very bleak future for us and especially the generation that comes next.
First of all: Thanks Mr. König for your engagement !
Since the party you belong to was founded as a satirical group and its becoming more and more obvious to the general public that you're able and willing to make "real politics", how does the discourse within the very good party "Die Partei" develop ?
Could you give some examples of change since becoming .. more serious ?
How many of your party members wish to get back to just being witty and following the GröVaz' line ?
You had me in the first half, not gonna lie :)
A lot of people in the US are seeing this as well. What advice or caution can you give us for dealing with the threats of these bad actors?
Sadly, I don't have a correct answer for this. It's really hard because the reasons for turning to right-wing groups are so manifold that a simple answer cannot be given here.
Many people are also to far into this. I really believe that you can't get them back. Good news though is that I don't think that this is a majority.
For adults, it's hard to do something by yourself. Changes that need to happen here need to happen on a larger scale. As I said in another comment, I think that many people in rural areas are susceptible for far-right theories, since they feel the most threatened by globalism and the changes it brings, whereas people in the city are more cosmopolitan and react more positively to these changes. Here we need to find solutions which help those people and their lifestyle be more included in our current society. Livable wages, more culture, support in education etc.
Your best bet though is the youth. Not the city youth though, most of them are already growing up more cosmopolitan. But the rural youth are the ones who are most likely to fall prey to nationalists and fascist groups. Here it is important to have better education on the issue, within schools and outside them, perspective for their future as well as alternatives in cultural offers (be it sports, arts or anything else).
What do you think about the Germans being executed by migrants at German train stations every other week?
I think I'd like to have a source for this statement.
Have you sail the sea with other party members?
No, I haven't.. yet. Definitely on my bucket list :)