Die stürmenden Holländer

Die Niederländischen Piraten sind im Endspurt des Wahlkampfes, die Chancen stehen gut für einen, wenn nicht sogar zwei Sitze in der zweiten Kammer der Generalstaaten, dem Niederländischen Parlament. Der Sperling hat mit Rico Brouwer gezwitschert und sich ein paar Sachen erklären lassen. Auf der Bundeswebsite gibt es eine deutsche Übersetzung des Interviews.

Introduction (from Rico)

The Dutch (NL) Pirates were founded in 2010. We’ve got some fourteen active local Pirate groups currently of which Groningen, Delft and Amsterdam are the largest. We’re running for national elections on March 15. Our front runner is Ancilla van de Leest and this is our campaign website. Throughout 2016 the Dutch Pirates worked together to write our electoral platform (program) which you may find here

The Interview

Rico Brouwer, Piratenpartij Nederland, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Sperling: Hello, how are you? And what are you doing in “real life”?

Rico: My name is Rico Brouwer. I prefer to introduce myself as a musician more than anything else. I’ve worked in ICT all my working life, the last four years in the position of a VMware Certified Instructor (teaching computer virtualisation). I’m a husband and parent of two. I’m currently full time involved in the Dutch election campaign.

Sperling: Please tell me, what is your job in the Dutch Pirates and when/how do you get it?

Rico: Early 2014 I became member to the Dutch Pirate Party. I volunteered to be a candidate for our national elections in 2016 and I’m now number three on our electoral list. My job as a volunteer within the Dutch Pirate party has been to assist our great team of Pirates and our front runner Ancilla, I try to help them run the best campaign they can. Call it campaign leader, for lack of a better word.

I suppose I got the job by doing as much as I can to the best of my abilities. Actually for the last couple of weeks running up to our elections I’ve changed my focus from running the back-office of our campaign to being a candidate. My job is being out in the spot lights and explaining what Pirates are all about.

Sperling: How are the Dutch Pirates organized?

Rico: As usual I suppose; largely autonomous local parties who contribute to our shared national Pirate party. Since we’re in the midst of our most important election campaign yet, all focus is on that now. But nationally as well as locally.

Sperling: How many pirates are on board, can you tell me something about your members?

Rico: We’re at some 1300 members now, growing with double numbers daily. But we do not register such things as age or social class. A great development is that we see more and more women joining ranks. We’re still predominantly a (younger) male group. Myself, I’m 46 years old. Another fine development is that people older than myself are joining too. People who are worried about their children and grand children’s future and figured Pirate Party holds the best answers for them.

Sperling: What kind of tools are you using for the internal organization of your political work?

Rico: The usual we also use: eMail lists, PAD’s, mumble and wiki. Some lesser known but useful tools we use also include Trello, Owncloud (incl. calendaring), Loomio and appear.in.

Sperling: Do you use a online-voting tool? What are the main arguments pro/contra online voting?

Rico: We’ve largely used Loomio as an online discussion/voting tool for reaching consensus on our electoral platform/program points through the summer of 2016. It had its virtues, though the most vocal Pirates can and have made more of an impact than some of our subject matter experts have. We’ve still managed to get most of the good stuff in though. What we didn’t manage enough I would say, was the overall balance as good as we could have. Lessons learned. It turned out a great document through the use of online collaboration and voting.

We elected our front runner (Ancilla van de Leest) in June 2016 and we voted for the rest of the electoral list in October. On both events quite some pirates called for an online voting mechanism to be used. However there was no online solution found that met all demands, so voting of persons was done in person, at an event. The main argument pro online voting was that only some 15% of our members show up in person. We want more people to be able to vote, online voting would accommodate that. One of the main arguments contra online voting of persons, is that you cannot adequately get it secured. Some argued to differ, but none are developing a solution currently. I’m pretty sure the debate will rekindle at the coming elections and in the end we will vote in person again.

Sperling: Which channels you use in social media or the internet for contact with non-pirates, (how) do you reach the poeple outside?

Rico: All channels we are willing and able to use by any means. Twitter is obviously among those. Some Pirates refuse to be present on Facebook, but since Dutch voters are there, our Pirate Party is there as well.

Sperling:The Dutch Political system isn’t known too well in Germany. In some countrys there are the legal regulations and reality – how about the Netherlands? Is there a chance for small partys to get involved into the system?

Rico: We have a two chamber political system. The senate (first chamber) is elected indirectly. On March 15th we elect our Parliament (second chamber). When the current Dutch system was developed it required some 30.000 votes for one of the 150 seats in Parliament, because of the increase in our population it now requires approx. 65.000 votes for one seat though.

The Netherlands is divided into 20 regions. A new party like us needs to get 30 residents in the respective regions to go to their city hall, identify themselves and sign a form. We managed the adequate number of signatures in 19 of the 20 regions (the one we didn’t make are the islands Bonaire/Saba/St. Eustatius). We also had to post a deposit of 11.250€ which will be forfeit if we don’t manage to gain enough votes on election day.

We jumped through all hoops, we’re on list 20 of 28. Still the playing field is not even. Major media outlets and most websites comparing the parties choose to not include the ‘small new ones’, which results in recommendations being given for the bigger parties only.

Rico: The ruling parties decided a few years back to introduce profit making as an incentive in our health insurance system, reasoning that competition would benefit all. There are only four major insurance companies today, so one could argue there is no real competition. Instead profit is being made on healthcare which has turned into a big theme these elections. Of our national budget on 264 billion euro, some 75 billion goes to healthcare. It’s a pretty big deal for us. The current system where you choose your insurance company, is being criticized. Some political parties, including Dutch Pirate Party, are calling for a ‘nationaal zorg fonds’ (no insurance companies striving to make a profit, just one fund for all).

Sperling: The relationship between the Netherlands and Germany is, from the media point of view, still burdened by history. Is there a real problem and how do the “young people” think about it?

Rico: Only during international football (soccer) tournaments, and only if you like football. And even then it’s more of a tradition than a problem. Most of the current generation youth view the German relationship more or less the same sentiment as the Belgium relationship. A healthy competition between two nations with a joke here and there.

Sperling: Can you tell me which positions are the “central ideas” of the Dutch Pirates? How do you communicate them to your voters?

Rico: I feel Pirates through the world share positions on such themes, so rather than explaining our ‘position’, these are our major themes: transparency and accountability for those in power, privacy and self-determination (especially in the digital space) for everyone else. The separation between political left/right has become less and less relevant here. The real divide is between those who want an inclusive society and those who want to discriminate. Humanism as one of our founding philosophical and ethical stances, is becoming more important by the day.

Sperling: What is your newest political achievement?

Rico: On a personal level; trying to fill that role as a candidate and public figure was a leap and therefore an achievement in itself. As a political party, we’re recognised as the undisputed subject matter experts on privacy, security and all things internet.

Sperling: Did the Media report about you? Did they report of the success of the Pirate Parties of Germany and Iceland?

Rico: Somewhat. I consider lots of our local media are lazy rather than journalistically curious, sensation driven rather than fact finding and biased rather than objective.

Sperling: Is there anything you want to tell us about you, the Dutch Pirates, the universe or the rest of all?

Rico: 42

Sperling: Thank you for your time, we hope we hear about you in the comming years!

Rico: Please share your observations on our National elections as they are covered in your countries and join us in our electoral victory party on March 15th in the Hague (Den Haag). You can register here;  If you want to participate in a live video feed to your country, or if you want to help out in our campaign running up to March 15th, please get in touch also. You can reach me at rico@piratenpartij.nl

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