Indian-origin candidate Mohan M K Ramaswamy contesting key poll in German state

Indian-origin politician and social scientist Mohan Meinhart Krischke Ramaswamy heads the German Pirate Party's bid to enter the legislature in Lower Saxony in a key state election today.

Germany's new political force has pinned its hopes on 59-year-old Ramaswamy to have representation in a fifth state Parliament and thereby boost its chances to gain seats in the Bundestag or national Parliament here for the first time in the federal election scheduled for September.

Since 2011, the Pirate Party has succeeded in securing enough vote share to enter four state Parliaments in Germany, namely Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.

Ramaswamy, who joined the Pirate Party in 2009 and became the treasurer of the state unit, was elected its leading candidate with a large majority at a special party congress last August. He has also been operating as a management board member of a regional division of the party in Lower Saxony.

The outcome of today's state election is being watched with great interest as it is seen as a crucial test of public support ahead of the national election.

As in Berlin, Lower Saxony is currently ruled by a coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Riding a wave of support from voters disgruntled with the established mainstream parties and from young people attracted by its calls for internet freedom, transparency and guaranteed basic income for everyone, the Pirate Party, which emerged on

the German political scene in 2006, has so far secured representation in four of Germany's 16 state legislatures.

The party's first success was scored in September 2011 when it won 15 seats in Berlin's 149-member Senate.

Later it entered the state assemblies in North Rhine Westphalia, Schleswig Holstein and Saarland.

However, internal divisions among its leaders, lack of concrete policies and programmes and its failure to make a mark as a new political force had cost the party a lot of its public appeal.

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