Die PARTEI

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Die PARTEI
Partei für Arbeit, Rechtsstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und basisdemokratische Initiative
Leader Martin Sonneborn
Founded August 2, 2004
Headquarters Kopischstr. 10
D-10965 Berlin
Youth wing Hintner Jugend
Ideology Satire
Grassroot democracy[1]
Work
Animal welfare
Elitism
Rule of law
Political position Radical center
European Parliament group Non-Inscrits
Colors Red, Grey
Anthem Lied der PARTEI
Bundestag
0 / 631
State Parliaments
0 / 1,875
European Parliament
1 / 96
Website
http://www.die-partei.de
Politics of Germany
Political parties
Elections
Martin Sonneborn, leader of Die PARTEI

Die PARTEI (English: The [Political] Party), formally Partei für Arbeit, Rechtstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und basisdemokratische Initiative (English: Party for Labour, Rule of Law, Animal Protection, Promotion of Elites and Grassroot-Democratic Initiative), is a political party in Germany founded in 2004 by editors of the German satirical magazine Titanic. The leader of the party is Martin Sonneborn. In the European Parliament election, 2014, the party won a seat - marking the first time a satirical party wins a seat in the European Parliament.

Name[edit]

"PARTEI" is an acronym for Partei für Arbeit, Rechtsstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und basisdemokratische Initiative (Party for Labour, Rule of Law, Animal Protection, Promotion of Elites and Grassroot-Democratic Initiative). At the same time, "Partei" is German for party. Usage of the definite article ("die PARTEI") is evocative of totalitarian parties - such as the SED (the former ruling party of East Germany), or the Nazi Party - and is therefore a tongue-in-cheek reference to the ostensibly totalitarian ambitions of the founders of "Die PARTEI". This is exploited and parodied in advertising in which the SED party hymn, Die Partei hat immer recht (English: The Party is always right) is played.

Goals[edit]

Amongst other things, the PARTEI parodies existing parties' features and election tactics and its parody events sometimes include visiting other parties' events.

The PARTEI refers to itself as a haven for voters disappointed by other parties. It plans to engage in a (self-declared) "populist campaign" centering on

  • rebuilding the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain between east and west Germany, changing east Germany into an "SBZ", a "Sonderbewirtschaftungszone" (Special Economic Zone). East Germany was referred to by the same acronym between 1945 and 1949 when it was called "Sowjetische Besatzungszone" (Soviet Occupation Zone).
  • a reform of the health insurance system
  • a reduction in working hours along with the abolishment of the Hartz IV laws and others introduced by "the neoliberal Schröder regime" (as an alternative to the Agenda 2010)
  • a new constitution discussed and ratified by the people (according to Artikel 146 German constitution).

As it freely admits the PARTEI intends to win votes largely on a program of populism. Sonneborn explains this as follows: 'In politics nowadays sentiments that bring in votes are the ones that get expressed and that's what I intend to do. Better that we get those votes than some sort of neo-Nazis.' In order to achieve its majority, the PARTEI is willing to form a coalition with any other party – bar the Free Democratic Party, stating 'We don't form coalitions with joke parties.'

According to the party's manifesto the party's policies focus on real people. Following in the tradition of the German constitution and on the basis of their values of freedom, equality and brotherliness they intend to work towards a situation by political means in which they can cooperate with others to strive towards and realize a truly humane, that is to say, peaceful and fair society.

Within the party an "Anti-constitutional-platform" was formed, in an attempt to force the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to surveil the party. The latter, however, refused to do so, considering the PARTEI a frivolous political party. The goals of the Anti-constitutional-platform:[2]

  • abolition of federalism
  • a war of aggression against Liechtenstein in order to force democratization and abolish serfdom.[3]
  • that the first article of the German constitution ("Human dignity is inviolable") be changed such that CEOs of certain TV channels would not possess human dignity.

According to Die PARTEI, goals in politics are overrated. They promise a "modern" version of politics: They will ask for popular opinion and, once in power, will do something completely different.

The party describes itself in the left-right politics scheme with "There cannot be anything, mustn't be anything and won't be anything left and right of the party!" (This is a reference to a famous sentence by Bavarian Minister-President Franz Josef Strauß: ″There must not be a democratically legitimised party right of the CSU.″) The only program point that cannot even remotely be found in other parties' programme is the resurrection of the wall that once divided East and West Germany, something that, according to certain polls, some 20% of all Germans wish for.

In electoral campaigns the PARTEI often caricatures slogans of other parties in order to show how nonsensical some of them are. Examples are "Hamburg – city in the North!", "overcome contents" (Inhalte überwinden), Education starts with 'E'" (Bildung fängt mit 'B' an) or "Youth crime – not with us!".[4]

Berlin Wall[edit]

Far in advance of Germany's reunification Titanic had the foresight to campaign against it. Titanic co-founder Chlodwig Poth explained, 'The definitive division of Germany – this is our mission', a sentiment included in Titanic's masthead since December 1989 in a nod to the quotation in the Bild newspaper's masthead over decades, 'The unity of our fatherland in freedom, that is our mission'.

At the heart of the PARTEI's political efforts lies the aim of resurrecting the Berlin Wall and all other border fortifications along the border with the former German Democratic Republic. This goal has however been hidden away in the last point of the party manifesto and was characterized by party chairman Sonneborn as merely a, 'populist vehicle'. He held out the prospect of a referendum after the PARTEI's accession to power. In order to raise the necessary finances for the erection of the Wall members are requested to donate the proceeds of their savings contracts. Chairman Martin Sonneborn described the project as follows: 'I give you and all the German public my word of honor, I repeat – my word of honor – that under us there will be no order to shoot at the Wall.' (This is a reference to a false statement by former East Germany SED party leader Walter Ulbricht who in 1961 claimed that "Nobody has the intention of building a wall" shortly before the wall was actually built and a reference to "Waterkant-Gate" of politician Uwe Barschel.)

The territory of the former GDR is thus to become a, 'Special Cultivation Zone' or SBZ in German for short (not to be confused with the previous use of 'SBZ' – the Soviet Zone of Occupation) that is to be separated from the rest of the republic by edificial means in order to emphasize the visionary idea of such a zone and is to benefit from a de-bureaucratized and streamlined administrative system. Additionally, the PARTEI is demanding a reform of health care provision, protection of natural resources and a program for reduction of working time as an alternative to Agenda 2010 [N.B. An unpopular set of labor market reforms introduced under Chancellor Schroeder from 2003]. On top of all this the PARTEI supports improved co-determination rights for citizens, in particular it demands that a new constitution be passed on the basis of wide-ranging discussions, to be ratified by the people (in line with article 146 of the constitution).

Die PARTEI and Titanic magazine[edit]

The foundation of the PARTEI was carried out on August 2, 2004 by editors of the Frankfurt satirical magazine Titanic and the top echelons of the PARTEI and the editorial team of the magazine continue to entertain close personal relations. Examples include the chairman Sonneborn, previously chief editor at Titanic, a role which also once belonged to the current honorary chairman, Oliver Maria Schmitt. Despite the fact that the PARTEI's official headquarters are located at Mauerstraße in Berlin, the fax number given turns out to be the same as that of Titanic editorial offices. Titanic is furthermore the official print organ of the PARTEI.

The Titanic, a satirical magazine that is decidedly left-leaning but quite drastically targets people from all walks of life, is the party's official media organ. Before the establishment of the PARTEI, Titanic joined in a variety of election campaigns with satirical stunts. At the German federal election, 2002 they put up a stand, supposedly for the Free Democratic Party shouting racist slogans, in January 2003, several Titanic authors, pretended to be candidates of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Hesse. At the elections 2003 in Bavaria Titanic surrendered in the name of the Bavarian Social Democrats ("SPD: Wir geben auf"), who always face the superiority of the Christian Social Union.

State organizations[edit]

The chairmen in the strictly federal system of the German states are:

Chairperson
Baden-Württemberg Peter Mendelsohn
Bavaria Gerd Bruckner
Berlin Martin Sonneborn
Bremen Imke Limpert
Hamburg Alexander Grupe
Hesse Christian Scheeff
Lower Saxony Dirk Poralla
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Ulf Mittelstädt
North Rhine-Westphalia Mark Benecke
Rhineland-Palatinate Heiko Förster
Saarland Alex Senzig
Schleswig-Holstein Bastian Langbehn
Thuringia Eggs Gildo

History and elections[edit]

From foundation to the federal elections of 2005[edit]

The PARTEI has participated in two federal elections and most state and municipal elections since 2005, achieving its best results in a few districts in Berlin and Hamburg without however doing well enough to gain any seats. Political scientists[who?] have characterized it as a 'joke party' ('Spaßpartei').

German federal election, 2005[edit]

In June 2005, the PARTEI agreed with the Anarchist Pogo Party to join forces in an alliance, Zweckbündnis (Marriage of convenience), for the 2005 federal election.

The most spectacular campaign action of the party was to sell its advertising times in German television (every party participating at German federal elections gets some minutes of TV time for campaign spots for free) at eBay. As a reference to a scandal of masked advertising in public television earlier the year, the party's – mostly satirical – TV spots were presented in the corporate design of a German airline company.

Nominating candidates only in the cities of Hamburg and Berlin, the PARTEI gained 10,379 votes (0.022% of all votes on national level).

Battle over 2009 federal elections[edit]

Die PARTEI, along with several other parties which had already participated in earlier federal and state election, was refused permission to take part in the 2009 federal elections.

In July 2009 Roderich Egeler, Bundeswahlleiter (Federal Returning Officer) and president of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, denied official party status and the approval for participation in the German federal election, 2009. He criticised lack of seriousness and organisation within the party. He claimed his decision was based on a fax by Die PARTEI which expressed that there is just one single Landesverband (organisation in one of the states). Die PARTEI rejoined that no such fax existed and announced legal action. T-shirts with the imprint "Where is my vote, Wahlleiter?" were sold as part of a protest campaign and the party demanded that Egeler resign after he did not revise his decision.[5]

On 3 November 2009 the party launched a challenge to the validity of the 2009 federal elections at the Bundestag. Die PARTEI also saw itself validated by President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert's maiden speech in which he criticized the election registration practices vis à vis parties as yet not represented in the Bundestag, 'in the Election Committee representatives of the established parties decide whether or not to register the competition'. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's final report on the federal elections of 2009, published on December 14, 2009 suggested a reform of the election registration process, since the composition of the Federal Election Committee might encourage subjective decision making and because of the fact that the current system does not allow for appeals against non-registration before elections.

On December 6, 2010, represented by Gunnar Folke Schuppert, the party launched an official election complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court in relation to the refusal of registration for the 2009 federal elections, a complaint that was officially accepted in February 2011 but rejected in April 2011 on the grounds that the party chairman as the complainant did not have the necessary right to complain.

Die PARTEI was once again allowed to participate in state elections in North Rhine Westphalia in 2010, Berlin, Hamburg and Baden-Württemberg in 2011.

Die PARTEI took part in municipal elections in North Rhine Westphalia on August 30, 2009, achieving 0.69% in its Krefeld stronghold.

2010 German state election North-Rhine Westphalia[edit]

On May 9, 2010, Die PARTEI reached 0.17% in the elections of Germany's largest state North Rhine-Westphalia. Candidate for the office of prime minister was forensic biologist Mark Benecke. He was supported by several well-known artists.

2011 Hamburg state elections[edit]

In the 2011 Hamburg state elections held on 20 February 2011, the party Die PARTEI won 23,994 votes (0.7% of the total).[6] In St. Pauli the party came in sixth place, winning 1.450 votes (4.9%), after SPD (37.4%), Greens (21.5%), The Left (20.1%), Pirate Party (6.7%) and CDU (5.8%).[7] In five districts (Hammerbrook, St. Pauli, Sternschanze, Veddel and Kleiner Grasbrook) the PARTEI beat the well established FDP. The PARTEI did best of all in the Kleiner Grasbrook district, where it attracted 39 votes or 5.3% drawing level in the district with Germany's largest party, the CDU.

Elected representatives[edit]

On May 17, 2011 Manuel Lindlar, who had originally been elected to the Leverkusen city council via the election list of the 'Die Linke' party, announced his defection to the PARTEI. In 2012 Dirk Scholl also former member of 'Die Linke' defected to the "PARTEI" in the city council of Saarlouis.

In the elections for the city council of Lübeck in May 2013, the PARTEI gained one seat.

German federal election, 2013[edit]

Information stall at "Kreuzberg jazzt!" in Berlin (2013)

On September 22, 2013, Die Partei reached 0.2% of German voters in the 2013 federal election.

European Parliament election, 2014[edit]

In the European Parliament election 2014, the PARTEI won 0.6% of German voters and thus one of the German seats. Top candidate Sonneborn announced that all candidates from their list, starting with him, would take the seat for one month, then retire and thus get the most money out of the European Union. He also said he believed that they were "not the craziest party in the European Parliament".[8]

Sub-organizations[edit]

The LISTE – the PARTEI student organization[edit]

Between 2005 and 2009 the PARTEI's student organizations began to make themselves felt in student parliaments in Bochum, Aachen, Berlin, Dortmund and Düsseldorf. In most cases the groups branded themselves as List for Grass-Roots Democratic Initiatives, Education, Animal Breeding and Promotion of Elites (German acronym LISTE -- Liste für basisdemokratische Initiative, Studium, Tierzucht und Elitenförderung). The student organization has 8000 members nationwide according to its own reports.

During the 2009/10 legislature the PARTEI student organization was able to advance its own man to the post of the President of the Düsseldorf student parliament. In the 2010/11 legislature the PARTY student organization now controls the post of assistant President of the student parliament at the Gießen-Friedberg University of Applied Sciences, their LISTE standing for 'List for Integration, Freedom from university fees, Technology and Promotion of Elites'). On April 20, 2011 Tobias M. Bölz, chairman of LISTE at the university of Karlsruhe was elected to the chairmanship of the executive committee of the student body, having been president of the student parliament in the previous legislative period.

The Hintner Youth[edit]

In line with the motto, 'We need a children’s and youth wing, because we need a children’s and youth wing!', the Hintner Youth, named after the PARTEI′s general secretary Thomas Hintner, was founded on June 5, 2005 during the state conference in Mannheim. The Hintner Youth's official greeting is, 'Hi Hintner!', thus alluding to the Nazi party's Hitler Youth and greeting.

The Hintner Youth's uniform, with its blue shirt, gray trousers and red scarf are reminiscent of East Germany's Pioneer organization and the Free German Youth FDJ. The Hintner Youth organizes an annual summer camp at the Helmut Kohl memorial camp site near Waldhambach as well as a number of other events, among them climbing the Watzmann in the name of, 'heaping up the summit to get up to at least 3001 meters.'

The PARTEI school[edit]

The PARTEI runs a school in Schwerin, which by allusion to the official SED schools is simply known as the, 'PARTEI school'. The school's purpose is not only to improve PARTEI official's political literacy but also to provide general educational programs, including IT and foreign languages. The school's director is Heike Zeilinger, with Ulf Mittelstädt and Michael Padefke as heads of the individual departments. According to the PARTEI the school has no real estate of its own.

Celebrities[edit]

Many German speaking celebrities are also members of the PARTEI, some of whom participate as their candidates during election time, among them Rocko Schamoni, Heinz Strunk, Mark Benecke and the rappers Maxim and Nico from the Berlin Hip-Hop group K.I.Z..

Rod Gonzáles, Hella von Sinnen, Dirk Bach and Guildo Horn all had their pictures taken with top flight officials from the PARTEI to express their support during the 2010 state election.[9]

Movie[edit]

On 13 August 2009, a movie called Die PARTEI – Der Film was released in theaters.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sonneborn, Martin (2009). Das PARTEI-Buch Wie man in Deutschland eine Partei gründet und die Macht übernimmt. Köln: Kipenheuer & Witsch. ISBN 978-3-462-04090-6. 
  2. ^ fr-online.de
  3. ^ volksblatt.li
  4. ^ abendblatt.de
  5. ^ derStandard.at
  6. ^ Official statistics of Hamburg elections
  7. ^ http://www.wahlen-hamburg.statistik-nord.de/frameset.php?file=status_karte&wahl=77&frame=true
  8. ^ http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/europawahl-ex-titanic-chef-sonneborn-ins-eu-parlament-gewaehlt/9948956.html
  9. ^ Photo collection with German celebrities and PARTEI members
  10. ^ parteifilm.de

Literature[edit]

  • Martin Sonneborn: Das PARTEI Buch. Wie man in Deutschland eine Partei gründet und die Macht übernimmt. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 2009, ISBN 978-3-462-04090-6 ['The PARTY book. How to found a party in Germany and take over.']

External links[edit]