As Leonhard has written on this blog some days ago, the recent success of the Pirate Party in the Saarland state election in Germany is remarkable. The Pirates received 7,4 percent of the votes right from the start. Just days after the election, the party has even raised its acceptance on the federal level. Current opinion polls count them at 12 percent among German voters.

In addtion to its success in regional elections, the German Pirate Party also consciously operates within a transnational context. The transnational perspective of the German pirates can be illustrated with a recent statement of Bernd Schlömer, vice chair of Pirate Party Germany, who points out that his party is part of a global movement. This movement, Schlömer added, might help to develop international positions, for example, on Foreign Affairs and Security Policies issues, which then could be brought back into national politics.

This recent example illustrates the two perspectives of the transnational context of the Pirate Party movement, which Leonhard and I aimed to further examine in a study pursued in January 2012, which will appear as a book chapter in the German edited volume “Unter Piraten“.

We would like to present our empirical findings in three short posts, starting with a general description of the project, the data collection and first results concerning the state of the global Pirate Party movement. We will then move on to post #2 on Issues and Campaigning and post #3 on Global Movement and Local Networks.

State of the Movement

The central thesis of the project was that the success of Pirate Parties can only be understood by taking the transnational dimension into account. Transnationality thereby means the combination of cross-border and local practices of actors who are simultaneously rooted in local contexts and global networks (Djelic & Quack 2003; Quack 2009). Transnationality within the Pirate Party context is as well twofold: On the one hand, the idea of the Pirate Party has spread globally within a few years since the first party was founded in Sweden in 2006 and has led to the establishment of more than 60 national pirate groups. And each of these parties adapts to different local conditions. On the other hand, this wave of founding new parties within a very short timespan was only possible because the central ideas and concepts (“frames”) of the Pirate Party were already being established earlier in the context of transnational social movements concerning intellectual property rights (Dobusch & Quack 2012 and “Transnational Mobilization and German Elections” on this blog).

The data for the comparison of Pirate Parties in different countries was provided by an online survey of all Pirate Parties at the national level that were listed on the Pirate Party International (PPI) web site in January 2012. In addition, we gathered online information available about the respective parties. At the time of the survey 18 out of the 64 identified Pirate Parties were officially registered as a party (28%). Because contact details weren’t available for all of these parties, the actual population of the survey was reduced to 56 national Pirate Parties.

In sum, we have received a response via e-mail from 28 (50%) of the parties. Wherever a contact person could be elicited and the survey had not been filled out online, the survey was conducted via telephone. In this way we obtained a response from 14 (78%) of all officially registered Pirate Parties (see Table 1)

Table 1: Data base and response rate

Find a more detailed overview of our data base under this link (PDF).

The forthcoming posts will present our analysis of issues and campaigning and the (inter)organizational relation to local networks.



Djelic, Marie-Laure & Sigrid Quack (2003): Globalization and Institutions. Redefining the Rules of the Economic Game. Cheltenham. Edward Elgar.

Dobusch, Leonhard & Sigrid Quack (2012): Framing standards, mobilizing users: Copyright versus fair use in transnational regulation. In: Review of International Political Economy, iFirst, 1-37. (see also the Online-Pre-Print, PDF)

Quack, Sigrid (2009): „Global“ Markets in Theory and History: Towards a Comparative Analysis. In: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Special Issue 49, 125-142. (see also the Pre-Print Version, PDF)