It should probably be noted that the German edition of the Pirate Party scored a pretty respectable two percent of the vote in their debut election. That would have been good enough for a Bundestag seat or two were it not for the rule that you need five percent of the vote to get counted in Germany’s proportional system. Many countries operate with a lower threshold. The Swedish version of the Pirate Party snagged a seat in the most recent European Parliament elections. The Pirates’ main issue—intellectual property—is probably best addressed at the European level and people are more inclined to vote for minor parties in European elections anyway, so you could imagine them building on this to elect some MEP’s from Germany in the future.
The Pirates strike me as more of an American-style “third party” than a European-style minor party. The difference, in my mind, is that rather than becoming stable junior partners in coalitions, what successful third parties do in the United States is get coopted by someone bigger who poaches their issue and their supporters.
At any rate, the case for substantial reform of intellectual property policy is quite strong on the merits, the issue is in fact crucially important as we move more and more into the digital economy, and yet no mainstream party anywhere in the world wants to touch it. So a little outside agitation seems to me to be exactly what the doctor ordered.