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Germany’s Pirate Party Siphons Opposition Support, Poll Shows

Germany’s Pirate Party, an insurgent political force devoted to Internet freedom, gained backing in a weekly poll that showed it siphoning off support from opposition parties.

The Pirates climbed 1 percentage point to 13 percent, displacing the Green Party, which slid 2 points to 11 percent, as the most popular force after the two main parties, according to a Forsa poll commissioned by Stern-RTL. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc advanced 1 point to 36 percent, while the Social Democrats fell a point to 24 percent.

The Pirates, whose platform focuses on web privacy and copyright issues, are gaining support from young voters disenchanted with the more established parties. The emergence of the party, which won its first seats in a state parliament in Berlin last year, threatens to reshuffle Germany’s SPD-led opposition as two more regional votes loom next month. Polls show the Pirates may win seats in both elections.

“For many young people the Greens have become stale and old,” Forsa director Manfred Guellner said in a statement. “The anti-nuclear issue doesn’t pull them in anymore.”

The survey showed a gain for Merkel’s Free Democratic Party coalition partner, which climbed 2 points to 5 percent, its best showing since August. That result elevates the pro-business FDP to the threshold of support needed to stay in parliament.

“The FDP is once again giving their classic base, small-and mid-size businesses, the feeling that they’re on their side,” Guellner said in the statement.

Polls still suggest that the FDP might be expelled from state parliaments in elections in Schleswig-Holstein on May 6 and in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 13, where SPD-Green coalitions are ahead.

Today’s Forsa poll surveyed 2,007 voters between April 2 and April 4 and has a margin of error of as much as 2.5 percentage points.

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