PPNL Increases After Regional Election in North-Holland
The Piratenpartij Noord-Holland participated in the Provincial State elections in North-Holland held on 28 March 2015. The Provincial State is almost an invisible administrative level in the Netherlands. Not many people know what these elections are about. Luckily, regional media published a handy guide about the seven tasks of the Provincial State:
- Sustainable spatial development
- Rural areas
- Regional transport
- Regional economy
- Cultural infrastructure
- Ensuring the quality of local governance.
Traditionally, not many people come out to vote at the Provincial State elections and those who do, usually tend to vote more conservative than at other elections. Moreover, most people that come to vote, mainly base their vote on the fact that elected Provincial State members indirectly. Because the Piratenpartij could not deliver a member for the Senate, we knew we had a difficult task in front of us.
- a sustainable, future-oriented economy.
A few weeks later on 28 January , we presented our candidate list to the press. We designed a controversial poster, in which we used the heads of other party leaders to resemble Frank Underwood from House of Cards, calling for ‘less politics and more democracy’.
Waterboard elections? Really!?
No, the Netherlands did not democratize torture. However, we do have elections for the water board. Although many people think it is something to make fun of, some important decisions are being made. For example keeping the dykes strong, to prevent our country from flooding. The Pirate Party did not participate in the water board elections. However, because during the Amsterdam elections, we noted that we had quite some similarities with the Greens, we cooperated with them during the current elections. We supported their campaign for the waterboard with two candidates, Matthijs Pontier and Jelle de Graaf. The Greens, on their hand, did not participate in the Provincial State elections and supported our campaign; among others with the candidacy of their lead candidate, Ronald Schönberger. On Valentine’s Day, we published ‘love letters’ and a manifesto to make our cooperation public.
Traditionally, the Pirate Party has a lot of competition from other parties, who claim they attach importance to our core issues. Because of our cooperation with the Greens, we ‘eliminated’ a part of this competition. However, in these elections, we got extra competition from the party ‘Heart for Holland’, an alliance of local parties, who had as their main issue to give local parties a voice in the Provincial State. This overlapped a lot with our strive for decentralization. We tried to tackle this, by making clear in a TV Debate that we did not only want this, but also had the means to reach this goal, an e-democracy platform to connect local parties and give them a direct vote in the Provincial State.
Also in the rest of our campaign, we made clear that we did not only address problems, such as corruption and lack of ICT-knowledge within the traditional parties. We also provided solutions for these problems. For example when a politician got entangled in a scandal, for among other reasons getting a double salary for a period of time, we introduced a proposal to prevent this from happening in the future. We actively supported the movement for a democratic university not only by giving a speech before the appropriation, but also by giving a presentation about how to enable leaderless decision making in the Maagdenhuis, a building of the University of Amsterdam that protesters appropriated.
Our unique solutions and future-oriented vision also stood out in online voting helps. We were the only party to even think about the implication of the introduction of self-driving cars on Dutch roads. Additionally, we were the only party who thought of this cheap and innovative solution to reduce air pollution caused by Schiphol airport: ‘shooting down’ particles using an ‘electron cannon’. Further, we suggested a pilot project for a basic income to prepare for the ‘robotization’ of the labour market in a widely shared opinion article, which fitted nicely in the current debate.
Campaigning on the streets, on social media, and in the traditional media
We participated in demonstrations, we handed out flyers and hung posters throughout the full Provincial State, and we informed people at election markets. Sometimes, we even made it to the news through doing this. Our lead candidate Charif Mews taught at a school and participated in a talkshow about the influence of technology on our society.
We got a lot of positive feedback on interviews and sometimes our opinion articles even led to straightforward voting advice for the Pirate Party. We appeared on radio shows, and on some shows several times. We did not forget expat voters, and also participated in an English language radio show. We appeared in ‘traditional’ TV-shows, as well as an online TV-show. Additionally, we recorded our own video’s. Matthijs Pontier gave a presentation at a bitcoin event.
Participating in debates
We pro-actively contacted organizers of debates to see whether we could participate. Charif Mews participated in a local debate of his hometown Zaanstad and an animal welfare debate in Amsterdam. Matthijs Pontier participated in debates in Badhoevedorp and Haarlem, the capital of the Provincial State. Participating in debates led to many positive reviews. Charif got positive attention for his input from the public in a debate where he was not allowed to participate on stage. Matthijs was praised for a ‘spanking of the coalition’ and an impassioned plea for the value of the library as cultural knowledge center in a debate on culture.
Seat in the polls!
We were very happy to see our work being rewarded with a seat in the polls. Although we knew it is hard to measure the popularity of small parties, we had good hopes to also make it to an actual seat. Especially, as we got good media attention in the last couple of days of our campaign.
We got positive feedback on our announcement that we would let our members decide who would make it to the Senate. We got positive attention from local newspapers. We published an opinion article in which we made clear why privacy is a building block of democracy. The introduction of an e-democracy platform for all citizens of the Provincial State made it to VICE Motherboard. And when the anti-Islam party PVV got entangled in a corruption scandal that involved the development and hosting of their website, a tweet in which we announced we offered them a free website (with a domain that looked to be from the PVV, but actually referred to our own website), was picked up widely.
Convincing people in doubt
Because many people were in doubt on what to vote for, we made a (slightly satirical) guide, in which we showed the differences between the Pirate Party and other parties. Additionally, we posted a last-minute pitch on why people ‘floating voters’ should vote for us. We gathered supportive messages from ‘famous and less famous’ people and at election day, we appeared in a TV show again.
With a turnout of 47.23%, we got close to 10,000 votes, accounting for 1.03%. This did not turn out to be enough for a seat in the Provincial State. However, our cooperation with the Greens for the Waterboard elections turned out to be fruitful and resulted in a seat for Ronald Schönberger there. Moreover, we more than doubled the score of the national elections in 2012 (which was 0.39%). if we would get 1.03% throughout the Netherlands with the national elections, this would have been enough for 1-2 seats in the national parliament. This is encouraging for the national elections that are planned for 2016, if the Government does not fall earlier.
47.23 % of 9885 votes = 1.03%:
TK2012 Noord-Holland: 0.39 %
EP2014 Noord-Holland: 1.20%
PS2015 Noord-Holland: 1.03%
About Matthijs Pontier
I have always had an interest for privacy, digital freedom and copyright reform. I actively Twitter about these subjects, publish opinion articles, givepresentations and perform at public debates or in the media every now and then. As an interdisciplinary scientist, I work to enable robots and computers to make moral decisions, and currently I am trying to bring morals and integrity back into politics by advocating transparency and citizen participation. I have been a candidate for the Pirate Party in several elections, and was among others lead candidate for the 2014 European elections for PPNL. Next to this, I have participated in various activist groups. Currently, I represent the Pirate Party in the waterboard.