* Party's political chief to quit amid infighting
* Support for Pirates has shrunk to 3 percent
* Pollsters say unlikely will score in Sept. vote
By Sarah Marsh
BERLIN, March 7 A leader of Germany's Pirates
has said he will resign after infighting tarnished the image of
the anti-establishment party that has sunk from being the
country's third most popular to a virtual has-been.
The Pirates stormed onto the political stage one and a half
years ago, winning 9 percent of the vote in Berlin's assembly
and tapping into a deep vein of voter discontent running not
only through Germany but across Europe, plagued by debt and weak
The party, which promised to use the Internet to promote
more direct democracy, won seats in three more state votes and
looked set to shake up Germany's political landscape in
September's federal election.
But it failed to hammer out specific policies and has
recently become better known for public spats, played out online
via often vicious Twitter or blog posts, and a string of
Johannes Ponader, the Pirates' chief policy maker, told
party members on his blog he would step down at the next party
conference in May in order to "ease conflicts on the board" and
take responsibility for shrivelling popularity.
Ponader last month published a text message exchange that he
claims was between himself and Berlin delegate Christopher
Lauer, in which the latter urged him to resign.
In a party survey, members said he was "egoistic",
"polarising" and "in no way capable of teamwork".
Support for the Pirates has shrunk from 13 percent last year
to around 3 percent, well below the 5-percent threshold needed
for it to enter parliament at September's federal elections.
The party already failed to clear this hurdle at the most
recent regional elections, in Lower Saxony.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh, editing by Gareth Jones and Michael