I have been politically interested (and occasionally active) for most of my adult life, but i have never been able to vote. Sure, i am a British citizen, but i haven't lived there since the 1980s. Until i moved to Germany in 2013, i was never eligible to vote in my country of residence. Immediately after arriving in Germany i had the opportunity to vote in the 2014 EU election, but i was not settled enough at the time to navigate the bureaucracy around how to exercise that right.
I didn't expect to have another chance for five years, until last week i received a letter from the elections office that as an EU citizen i am allowed to vote in the Berlin local elections (although not the German federal election). This is HUGE. I can't explain how big of a deal it is for me to finally have the chance to have my voice heard. And it is in a local election, which is exactly where my voice counts the most.
So, the past week or two i researched my options. The big three are the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left. They are all center to left parties, and almost certainly one of the three will take the seat (currently my member is a Green). But i don't want to waste the very first vote of my life on a mainstream party that may get shit done in the sausage factory of federal politics but doesn't really understand what is important to me here in Friedrichshain Wahlkreis 5.
Enter the world of the German "Kleinparteien" - the minor parties. Most famous internationally are probably the xenophobic new right, though i doubt they will get much support in my district. The Pirate Party is also running a candidate, but although they have meme-tastic ads ("Grumpy Cat against racism!") they seem to lean toward the douche-y side of libertarianism. There is something subversively appealing about voting for the Trotskyist candidate, but the party's earnestness is exhausting. So who is going to represent my quirky mix of supporting far left ideology in principal but feeling unsympathetic toward dour absolutists? How about the party headquartered right around the corner from my house? How about the local Dadaist squatters - Bergpartei, die Überpartei ("Mountain party, the hyper-party")?
Although at first these guys appear to be a joke party, the messages on their absurd cartoon bunny campaign posters and stickers do make sense. And after hearing the candidates speak candidly i realized that this is exactly the party i believe in. For love. For art. For freedom. In the past i have rolled my eyes at so-called anarchists because i fear anarchy would lead to some kind of every-man-for-himself dystopia. But i guess if you see it more as a system of shared responsibility, if you think about the temporary autonomous zones that are created at raves, or you consider the communal living experiences of squatters... Then you could see anarchist politics as supporting the idea that there should be just enough of a government that the people CAN be free. That the government should only exist to empower people to self-organize and create their own vibrant communities. It's a little idealistic, perhaps, but it represents my anti-consumerist and generally left-wing ideology. And the Bergpartei exists primarily to spread the word through surreal art and good humor. That's something i can get behind. That's what represents me, and what i want for my community here in the Friedrichshainer Nordkiez.