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The Europe Roundup: The Pirate Party in the Berlin Parliament: Trolling the Government?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, November 29 2011

  • Germany | The Pirate Party in the Berlin Parliament: Trolling the Government?
    Two months ago the Berlin chapter of the Pirate Party registered an amazing result by winning 15 seats in the Parliament of the State.
    The crucial step of working on issues from inside the institutions may be tricky and it is always a test for movements turned parties. On Sabine Blanc and Ophelia Noor interviewed some of the newly elected representatives to get a better understanding of how the Pirates' strategy will look like in the coming months.

    In a country where party coalitions are quite common in order to govern, the Pirates were in a good position to even become part of the government. After a careful reflection, though, they decided not to join any coalition, in order to stay faithful to principles and also to avoid risks of "explosion", pretty common for small parties who had join coalitions from time to time.
    "As an opposition party you point out the mistakes, you troll the government. That’s your job." says Pavel Mayer, one of the elected representatives. Anyway they will consider alliances on the district level, says the article.

    The next step is liquid democracy, the Pirates say. As reported in the article:

    “Liquid Democracy”, to the PP, is about going back to the fundamentals of democracy, allowing people to participate directly in the political process. Proposing, supporting and amending initiatives. The focus is on horizontality, transparency and the obligation to be constructive. Time-wasting trolls need not apply. 

    It seems like the Pirates in Berlin are trying to be "institutional" their own way: a coalition can wait.

  • EU | The European Commission to Adopt an Open Data Strategy
    Today the European Commission will adopt an Open Data Strategy, a set of measures aimed at increasing government transparency. The Strategy will be also creating a €32 billion a year market for public data, says the press release.
    The measures will include a modification of the existing Directive on the re-use of public sector information, a framework law that draws guidelines that every EU country has to implement on a national level.
    As commented on the Open Knowledge Foundation Blog:

    The strategy, first proposed in November 2010, will involve a modification of the existing Directive on the re-use of public sector information, and the deployment of measures such as a creation of open data portals at European level. Currently, the release of public sector information in the EU is governed by the 2003 Directive (2003/98/EC) on the re-use of public sector information

    The Directive has undoubtedly helped improve harmonization across Europe, but there is much more work to be done in standardising rules around issues such as licensing and pricing, as well as promoting better practices across the Union. The persistent lack of interoperability, and failure to make information available in machine-readable formats, are preventing the social and economic potential of public sector data from being realised, and according to the Commission fragmenting the markets for data-based products and services across the Union.

    The strategy will be presented in a Commission Communication to the European Parliament and to the Council. A press conference with all the information will be held by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes on December 1st.

  • Russia | Monitoring Russian Elections: First Findings
    Back in September I wrote about, a crowdsourced map for collecting user data on electoral violations, promoted by the newspaper and by the electoral monitoring association Golos (Russian for voice). The Ushahidi-like map allows users to report agitation, violations, administrative and police pressure, bribery, misuse of power and violations of candidates' and citizens' rights.
    On November 22nd Golos published a statement outlining the main findings of their work so far.
    While some innovations may be qualified as positive (measures ensuring equal terms for all parties for campaign events, changes in the procedures for voting by absentee-vote certificates and outdoor voting,  guarantees for visually disabled persons), the association's evaluation of the new federal law on parliamentary election is negative, especially when it comes to candidates' rights.
    As stated on their website:

    GOLOS Association attracts attention to the fact that the Federal Law «On Political Parties» and its biased application actually destroy political competition, preventing creation of new political parties. 

    Special concern is caused by deprivation of non-partisan candidates of their rights, in view of the fact that the RF Ministry of Justice has in the recent years refused to register all new political parties, with the exception of Right Cause. [...]
    The undersized amounts of election funds at regional elections make it more difficult to wage campaign by legal means and create privileged conditions for the candidates who rely heavily on the administrative resource.

    Golos will publish two more statements on the results of its monitoring activities on December 1st and on December 5th, the day after the election.

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