Regional and municipal elections in Belgium
Tomorrow, on the 14th October 2012 the regional and municipal elections are taking place in Belgium, which has compulsory voting for every citizen from 18 years of age. Legal sanctions still exist, but they haven’t been enforced by prosecutors since 2003 .
The territory of Belgium is divided into three Regions, two of which, Flanders and Wallonia, are in turn subdivided into provinces; the third Region, Brussels, is neither a province nor a part of a province. Belgium’s political institutions are complex; most political power is organised around the need to represent the main cultural communities: there are six different governments running the country: the Federal government, the combined Flanders and Dutch speaking government, the Walloon government, the French speaking government, the German speaking government and last but not least the capital Brussels government.
Since around 1970, the significant national Belgian political parties have split into distinct components that mainly represent the political and linguistic interests of these communities. The major parties in each community, though close to the political centre, belong to three main groups: Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Social Democrats. Additional notable parties came into being well after the middle of the last century, mainly around linguistic, nationalist, or environmental themes and recently smaller ones of a specific liberal nature like the Pirate Party Belgium, founded in 2009 .
Twitter hash tag #hellopaul was used as a campaign
Earlier this year, the Belgian Pirates had a hard time entering the elections. The first problem was that an application document for the provincial elections necessary to gather signatures did not yet exist. The other problem was that the official site of the ministry had two contradictory rules. On one page it was stated that people could only register as a candidate in the constituency where they were also a resident. On another page it was clearly stated that it was not obligatory to be registered in the same voting district.This has now been corrected with the help of the community and protesting Pirates. The twitter hash tag: #hellopaul was used as a campaign to get these necessities fixed .
Present in 14 municipalities and 26 provincial districts
At the moment the Belgian Pirates are not having candidates in every province or region of the country because of lacking personnel resources. Currently, the structures are built upon differently sized pirate crews scattered throughout the country. For many pirates and candidates it is their first time showing up in the political landscape of Belgium. The Pirate Party was already present in Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde in 2010, gaining 0.26% of the vote. This time it will be present in 14 municipalities including Brussels, Schaerbeek, Ixelles, Namur, Liege, Ottignies LLN, Leuven, Ghent and 26 provincial districts.
Many of the Pirates in Belgium are connecting and organizing their actions like Anti-ACTA or Anti-INDECT demonstrations, flash mobs and the “Freedom not Fear” week in Brussels via their forums and Facebook in so-called crews and squads meeting regularly at the “Pirate Beers” or working meetings. They also managed to install a liquid feedback instance, in which they’ve decided several issues such as their statutes .
Pirate Party represents a natural evolution of society
The Belgian Pirates don’t have an officially approved political programme but a common Pirate codex: the Walloon Pirate Party e.g. calls it under the name of “Values” . One of their goals is to get transparency into every layer of Belgian politics. In their words, the Belgian Pirate Party “makes sense [because] it represents a natural evolution of society, that is what you will do if you vote pirate”.
An outlook to their performance in the coming elections: they’re young, so they don’t expect a majority or to become part of a coalition, but “the elected pirates count on the knowledge of citizens and the participation of everyone and therefore you, to act for the public good. Vote Pirate, it means advancing with the world and puts the citizen at the center of the game.” .
List of regional and municipal candidates: http://pirateparty.be/?p=805&lang=en
 http://www.ppbw.be/quisontlespirates.php (french)
 http://www.ppbw.be/propositionspirates.php (french)
Featured image CC-BY by Lionel Dricot and Pirate Party West-Vlaanderen
About Patrick Schiffer
I am living in Duesseldorf, Germany and I am a Member of the Pirate Party since March 2012. I’ve studied Arts & Visual Communication at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. I speak german, english, french and dutch fluently. I am interested in developing & spreading the ideas coming out of and getting into the Pirate movement worldwide. For that, I think this international newsletter is a great thing. And I’d love to work & communicate with pirates from different countries all over the world so that I would like to help and contribute by spreading news, commenting, making graphics, writing & lectorating for Pirate Times. I am active in several working groups in Germany and in co-coordinating the founding of the PP EU.