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Slovenian Pirates Might Be Tested Sooner Than Expected

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, January 16 2013

Photo of Slovenian Pirates from the Pirate Times

The Slovenian Party (Piratska stranka Slovenije) was founded about three years ago. Like Pirate parties in other countries, it is a movement focused on digital issues. But nation-wide protests against austerity and political corruption — and, possibly, upcoming elections — might force them to test their political strength sooner than planned.

Will they stick only to their core digital issues or they will move forward, as the German Pirate Party did?

Last November, the Slovenian Pirates passed the threshold and the party was listed in the registry of political parties, which means that it will be allowed to run in the coming elections.

“Digital freedom is the same as freedom in the physical world, and should be recognized as a fundamental right in the Constitution,” Slovenian PP member Matic Urbanija wrote in response to a question from techPresident sent by email. “Probably we will need a clear public example of what it means to be without digital freedom to make our position valid in the eyes of the majority. But as things are developing in Slovenia, probably we won't have to wait for long.”

Urbanija, who is responsible for international coordination, is probably right: In early December thousands of demonstrators gathered in the squares of the Slovenian city of Maribor to to drive out the mayor, who was accused of corruption. People took to the streets in other cities to protest against the economic crisis and the corruption of the country’s political class.

“In 20 years of independence, the protest was entirely unprecedented. People even talk about “the Maribor uprising” as though it was a historical event,” wrote Slovenian journalist Borut Mekina in a popular local newspaper called Jutarnji List.

Slovenia, which became the first post-communist state to adopt the euro six years ago, is also among the countries suffering most acutely from the Eurozone crisis. In October, the financial newspaper Poslovni dnevnik (The Business Daily) reported that 273,000 people live in poverty, or roughly 10 percent of the population.

Protests over recent weeks have occasionally become violent, although the Pirate Party has condemned the use of violence.

Meanwhile Bloomberg reports that Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s party dismissed calls for his resignation and refused to take part in any "technical government." New elections might well be the next step for the country.

“We are [...] making an effort to establish a working electronic direct democracy (eND) system that would incorporate all the opinions of our members and by doing so, taking the democratic process inside the party to the next, higher level,” Urbanija wrote via email. “By doing this our political program will greatly expand.”

The Pirates did not participate in the 2011 national elections. Officially their next objective is the European elections in 2014. But the party is now able to compete in the next national election, which may happen sooner than expected. And some of their plans look a lot like those their German cousins had a few years ago.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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