Before the Internet offered new ways to communicate, small political parties in Germany had barely a chance to make it into the Bundestag, or parliament. By law they have to receive at least 5% of the vote.
Each and every political party receives government subsidies to finance their election campaigns, but based on how many votes they get. The more votes received, the more money to run campaigns. The problem for new parties is that they have to first finance their campaigns out of their own pocket in order to gain any degree of name recognition.
Traditional modes of political advertising are simply too expensive for start-up parties. They can never get enough voter momentum to receive significant amounts of money from the government. A catch-22 situation, or chicken and egg situation.
The rules of the game have changed, however, with the Internet: Facebook, Twitter, and other kinds of social media. Now small, unknown parties like the Piratenpartei, literally Pirate Party, are able to compete with the major, long-established political parties: Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Free Democrats, Green Party.