The Kiss Of Life For Pirate Party Greece
The 4th Congress of the Pirate Party of Greece, held in Athens last weekend, was marked by the resignations of 3 out of 7 Board members, including chairman Thanasis Gounaris. Those resignations were announced before the recent elections on September 20. PPGR continued its operation under the responsibility of an informal committee, which took the helm of the party until the congress.
However, despite the recriminations and different views on the continued course, two out of the five Board members, who had stated that they would resign, finally withdrew their resignations. Thereby giving “the kiss of life” to the party until the next congress in November 2016. If there were more resignations the situation would be very difficult for PPGR and its dissolution seemed like a possible scenario.
This is not Iceland!
Pirates in Iceland may enjoy popularity in their country, as they are steadily the biggest party for six months in a row, but other pirate parties in Europe underperform or risk being dissolved mainly due to internal disagreements. Of course this is nothing new and those involved, albeit briefly, are well aware that hard fights and intense confrontations are inherent of the everyday life inside a pirate party.
The largest and most famous pirate parties have gone through such periods that cost votes and caused big disappointments for members, friends and voters. Something similar is happening in PPGR which faces its own crisis, in a country that’s stuck in recession for the 6th consecutive year.
It was a rather cold congress for Greek Pirates
Relations between Greek pirates had gone bad before the elections. The disagreements came from the result of a vote on whether PPGR would participate in the snap elections with the cooperation of two other parties (whom identified themselves in the broader center-right political space). A group of members rebelled and violated the constitutional principles, leading the party to the elections and with the tacit tolerance of others, to their 4th congress.
Under these ominous circumstances, Greek Pirates – fewer there than any other PPGR congress – met in the municipality of Taurus to discuss the course of the party. Thanasis Gounaris, chairman of the Board, resigned and his statement was posted at the forum of the party. Gounaris spoke of members who operate against the party:
“I hereby declare my resignation from the position of the chairman of the Board, as well as totally of the Board and of all the organizational bodies in which I participate. My desire is to stay a single member of PPGR and wish my resignation to be accepted. Although the reasons of my resignation are known to most, I would like to highlight the important disagreements and the inability of consultation with pirates who try to manipulate the party and its members and the political dispute that concerns crisis, Memorandum, European integration and the immigration problem.”
Two other Board members, Kostas Bouchagiar and Petros Freris, also resigned from their posts. Kostas Bouchagiar appealed to the Arbitration Committee against 4 members of PPGR, including himself, with different justifications. As he noted, he took this initiative, because the differences between members have not been solved. The procedures inside PPGR for the replacement of vacancies have already started.
“At their congress, Greek Pirates made an evaluation of the elections, discussed about their social policy, the 3rd Memorandum and the proposal of the party on open governance, to the Greek Free/Open Source Software Society (ELLAK) and ratified the submitted proposals for education, by an absolute majority.”
PPGR’s history in Greek politics and the pirate movement
PPGR’s four years of activity can be described as positive. The party has written its own history in Greek politics and the pirate movement. Since its inception in early 2012 until today, it has participated in almost all the elections in the country, either independently or in cooperation with other political forces, managed to get above 1% in the polls and became well known to Greek voters.
Top activity for PPGR was the initiative to set up a front of 15 movements and parties, aiming to commonly run in the elections of January 2015, which eventually was not possible for many reasons. In the European elections of 2014, the cooperation of the Pirates with Ecologist Greens, yielded a 0.90% result.
Great was the response of Greek teachers to the autonomous trade union of “Pirates in Education” that have a seat on the top body of their federation DOE, while recently represented as well to the leading organ of Greek civil servants, ADEDY, by the resigned chairman of PPGR Thanasis Gounaris.
PPGR hosted “PPEU 2013” in Athens, where the common European election programme was jointly adopted by the Pirate parties for the EU Elections 2014. Greek Pirates have served (and still are serving) as Board members of the European and International bodies of the pirate movement, PPEU and PPI.
Featured image: CC-BY, PPGR
About Stathis Leivaditis
The English “pirate” is derived from the Greek word “πειρατής” (peiratēs) and this in turn from the verb “πειράομαι” (peiráomai), “I attempt”, which is a derivative of the noun “πείρα” (peîra), “experience”. Coming from the depths of the centuries, the word “pirate” took on another dimension in our days. The ruling classes saw pirates as rebels and hated them. Rebels without a state, they were not submissive to any law, except from the laws they instituted themselves, improvising together. This is the feeling of a Pirate: when something doesn’t work, you have to attempt to bring a new concept. Sometimes it goes beyond a certain point and perhaps exceeds certain limits, because it is an expression of challenge; the challenge to change the system. I’m a member of the Board (and former chairman) of Pirate Party of Greece, also a member of press team of PPGR, former journalist, now a free lancer. I'm in the team of Pirate Times from the start, I joined voluntarily and consciously because I am interested to meet pirates from around the world, to exchange views and spread the pirate spirit.