The Belgian Pirate Party between Sadness and Happiness
The week before the general assembly, on the 23 – 24 March 2013, a sad event deeply impacted lives and thoughts of the Belgian Pirates. It was revealed, during the week that the co-founder of the Belgian Pirate Party, co-founder of Pirate Parties International as well as a very popular friend of Pirates worldwide, Jurgen Rateau, lost his life far too early at the age of 42. Too young to die.
“Jurgen has brought his time, energy and all his intellectual force to the Pirate project. He co-founded the Belgian Pirate Party in 2009 and was an unforgettable co-chairman. He participated in the founding Assembly of Pirate Parties International and was part of its Court of Arbitration. He left his mark on Pirate movement at home and abroad. We will miss his commitment, his still relevant analysis, his sense of humor, and his determination.
Rest in peace, Captain. The adventure will never be the same without you.”
Group statement from the belgian Pirates.
The Belgian pirates met, while being deeply affected by this bad news, during the weekend at their national convention in Strombeek-Bever in Brussels, but their courage to change and their will to reorganize the party was unbroken and they discussed many important amendments.
Activity report & speakers
The general assembly began with the presentation of speakers and explanation of the conduct of the keynote. Members of the core team made a review of the previous months which included a lot of impressive highlights regarding the impact of the young party. The membership had risen to 175 Pirates in total (2009: 4 members). And although they only ask for 1 € as a membership fee, the average membership fee paid was 11,57 €.
Concerning the provincial level elections in 2012, the Pirate Party wanted a candidate in each of the country’s district. The goal was to give every citizen the opportunity to vote at least once for the Pirates throughout the land and it was easier with 69 districts than with more than 589 municipalities.
At the municipal level, the Crews were free to participate or not, depending on the motivations of individuals and the respective local situation. Crews who made the list were fully autonomous and were supported by the Party. All the lists, presented in Wallonia, exceeded 2%. In the provinces, the maximum share was 3.42% (district of Tournai) and communal Pirates of Louvain-la-Neuve exceeded the 5% threshold without having an elected (missed by 14 voters).
The speakers section included a summary about the impact of ACTA on public health policies by Leïla Bodeux, Advocacy Officer for Basic Social Services at Oxfam. Then, Arnaud Collignon, Climate Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace spoke about the importance of intellectual property in international climate negotiations. Anthony Baert, economist, campaigner of BasicIncome.be held a short speech titled “From intellectual property to basic income” and the last summary was given by Pirates from the IT squad, namely Tom Behets & Jeremy Scheppers with an essay called “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Pirate Party”.
Statutes in the making
The Belgian Pirate Party had statutes in the making and voted in favour of the way they were: Anyone who wanted to could contribute, and anyone who wanted to could vote. You could also vote for delegates, so you could choose who you wanted to represent you with a maximum of two cards (votes) per person. The Belgian Pirate Party is now ready to take part in the next elections to participate in and promote democracy, transparency and freedom of the Internet.
Four important Workshops
On Sunday morning, four different workshops were done.
“How does Belgium work?” – Questions and answers about cutting legal, administrative and political development. Impact of the sixth state reform.
“What are the issues / debates that will make politics in 2013” – Discussions on Sncbleaks, Police Cam, IPRED, Indect, Art. 140bis, Austerity.
“Debriefing of last municipal & provincial elections” – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
“How do we communicate?” – If you want help out with the website, or you just need help on how to post a publication to a squad or crew, this is the moment to ask questions. Organizational stuff about communication in between the Belgian Pirate Party
What will the future bring?
As decided by the Coreteam during a meeting held on 12 March 2013, they proceed to the election of a “Temporary Coreteam” which will be in charge of organizing the election of the Coreteam in 3 months time and manage daily affairs. This temporary Coreteam will be open to all and consist of 3 to 12 Pirates elected by approval of the candidates.
Another fact they decided, which might be relevant to all European Pirates, and the coming foundation of an European Pirate Party is the ratification both of the Prague and Paris declarations, which were drawn up in 2012 and 2013 by Pirates from all over Europe.
Jonas Degrave, a member of the Belgian Coreteam concludes: “The party has two legs now, we have statutes and core values we all agree on. It has been a great opportunity for people from all over the country to meet other pirates. We welcomed some Pirates from Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands to help put everything into an international context.
In overall it was a very productive weekend, lots of progress has been made, we had interesting talks and room for networking and we proved again that language is no barrier. Now it is up to the next general assembly in June, where we will decide on the method we will use to make the program together with which we will go to the 2014 elections. Europe 2014, here we come!”
Featured Images by Pirate Party Belgium – CC-BY-SA