The Belgian Pirate Party Announces Candidates for the European Elections
During the weekend of 18-19 January the Belgian Pirates, from all over the country and all its language groups, came together in Brussels. These type of meetings are organised 4 times a year by PPBE. After some debate on small statutes changes the main work for the day could begin. The regional program was the next main item on the agenda, after hard work a final version was agreed upon.
Next some practical decisions of how the Belgian Pirate party will work together with its European sister parties. The Common European Election Program was ratified unanimously and PPBE decided to join the European Pirate Party.
The tensions rose when the big question came closer. Who will represent the Flemish Pirates in the EU elections on May 25? After approval voting of all the candidates for the EU list the ranking was decided by Schulze-Condorcet. The first three candidates are Sarah Van Liefferinge, Jonas Degrave and Helga Vandenweghe. The EU-list for the Walloon region will be decided upon at a later time. Having a program and a list is however not enough for PPBE to participate in the EU elections. The requirements to participate in EU elections for Belgium are to collect 5000 signatures from voters in each region, or to convince 5 currently elected representatives on the national level per region to sign. This is the next focus point for the Belgian Pirates before the election campaign can really begin.
And the work doesn’t stop there. There won’t just be European elections in Belgium on May 25th. There will also be regional and national elections on the same day. This is a huge organisational challenge, especially for a small party. Not to mention the 5% threshold for regional and national elections. For the first seat in the European parliament there is about 8% of the votes required for the first seat.
In the following section we will introduce the top candidate:
Top candidate: SARAH VAN LIEFFERINGE
Who are you and why did you join the Pirate Party?
Sarah: I’m Sarah, 32 years old, and I live in Ghent. I’ve studied Eastern languages and cultures, and I have a teaching degree. My job is to guide visually impaired and autistic students who are integrated in regular secondary and higher education.
I joined the Pirate Party almost two years ago. An article about the German Pirate Party triggered me. I had the feeling I could no longer vote for any of the traditional political parties. So the Pirate style appealed to me: thinking out-of-the-box, beyond left- versus right-wing, a movement that incorporated the digitization and third industrial revolution. That’s what our societies need right now. It is impossible to remain blind and silent about the many flaws in our political and socio-economical systems. I am truly indignant, I refuse to become cynical. So I joined the movement.
What’s the most important European Pirate standpoint in your opinion?
Sarah: For me, the pirate ideology is like a web: everything is connected. At the core are (digital) civil rights and the empowerment of citizens. Free culture and open data are essential to accomplish this: education should be accessible for everyone. The privacy of citizens must be guaranteed. The rise of surveillance states has to be stopped.
Big corporations are more powerful than the nation states. They pollute our democracies and our environment. Copyright and patent laws -once designed to stimulate creativity- reinforce their power. International trade agreements will do too, if we don’t pay attention.
It is time to adapt our laws and systems to the digital age, which offers many possibilities to improve our democracies: decentralisation of power through P2P networks, mass distribution of information and data, and highly interactive communication with citizens, for example.
What will you focus on when elected?
Sarah: When I get elected, I want to start experimenting with the concept of democracy. I believe the Pirate Party should be a laboratory for politics: we can learn through trial and error. So I would like to implement, for example, the proposal and voting tool GetOpinionated. It is based on the idea of Liquid Democracy. Furthermore, I like the idea of the Open Ministry in Finland. These tools offer us the possibility to crowd-source legislation.
The European Union is clearly experiencing a democratic deficit. Citizens do not trust the European Commission and don’t feel connected with the European Parliament. The monetary union has been built rapidly and is still expanding. Growth seems to be more important than stability. We need a transparent, fair and truly democratic European Union, otherwise Europe will collapse. The European institutions clearly need an update. European citizens need a new perspective for the future. And I believe Pirates have plenty of good ideas to help building it.
[edit note] some parts of this article were changed afterwards, because the candidates were elected for the flemish part of belgium, not whole belgium.
Featured Image : CC BY-SA PPBE