This is the third and final part of a small series of blog posts presenting the empirical findings of a study about the Pirate Party movement, which Leonhard and I carried out in January 2012. In particular, we aimed at exploring the transnational context of the German pirate party.  Previous posts dealt with the State of the Pirate Party Movement and Issues and Campaigning. This time we are dealing with local organizational ties of Pirate Parties.

Local embeddedness of Pirate Parties is not only important in terms of issues and campaigning but also with respect to (inter-)organizational relations. In our brief survey, almost every registered Pirate Party (13 of 14) reported ties to partner organizations at the local or regional level. Together with lower barriers to entry in local representative bodies, this localization strategy also tends to result in better election results at lower political levels (see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Average election result in % of registered Pirate Parties by level (2006 – 2011)

Sources: ; [retrieved Feb. 10, 2012]

Figure 2: Number of elected officials by level (2006 – 2011)

Sources: ; [retrieved Feb. 10, 2012]

In addition to the development of local branches, the sampled parties mostly operate within a local network of organizational supporters and partners. The majority of registered parties named local branches of active NGOs, including organizations operating transnationally such as Wikimedia and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as local activist groups as well as think tanks (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Collaborating in local networks (categories mentioned; open question)

According to our survey results, another important group for cooperation and joint campaigns are other political parties, especially in form of their youth organizations. When we compare the answers of registered and non-registered parties, the local networks of the latter are less differentiated – with the exception of very active groups such as the Pirate Party in New Zealand.

The connections between Pirate Parties and local partner organizations are fostered by the personal background of party chairs and organizers. According to registered parties, in most cases core team members have already been actively serving in NGOs and activists groups before joining the local pirate party. In other words, many protagonists of Pirate Parties have previously dealt with similar or the same issues, concepts and frames, which are now pursued by the Pirate Parties; and these organizational breeding grounds were as transnational as the Pirate Party movement.

In a nutshell, Pirate Parties are acting within a transnational context, combining transnational concepts and frames with local issues, opportunities and organizational networks. Furthermore, these results lead us to reject notions such as the Pirate Parties are a mere temporary phenomenon or a protest party.