When we established why we want a European Pirate Party, we forgot to mention that in previous discussions some people expressed reservations about a formalized structure of PPEU. The biggest risk of a PPEU without formal structure is that people will work on the same topics without knowing it, thus wasting time and resources instead of focussing them. One solution would be the creation of taskforces – each group taking care of specific tasks (f.ex. campaign organization, press team, helping new parties). A central register of taskforces should be kept to avoid creation of multiple teams working in parallel on same topics. Another option would be that every Pirate Party delegates at least one Pirate to work in a regular EU taskforce that works on the most necessary topics. While this model would ensure participation of all EU/European Pirate Parties, it will take manpower from national parties that might not be able to afford it.
However, we think that a structured PPEU has many advantages (see 2nd blogpost) while not restraining the creation of less formalized structures. Special taskforces should be created, especially for the planning of the EU election campaign – but they can be created within or parallel to the structure of PPEU to ensure the benefits of both models to be realized.
As a structured PPEU/Europe does not prevent the creation and management of special European working groups, we continue to discuss some basic questions regarding its structure and form. We will pose these as a number of questions, and give possible answers. These answers are not the be-all, end-all answers for these questions, rather they are the answers people came up with in this discussion already. We think that most of these are the questions we should try to answer during the PPEU panel in Prague, while others should be tackled during the draft process of the statutes (and the subsequent votes on them during the founding conference).
1. The first question is geographical: What countries do we want to include? Possible answers:
- Only EU countries
- EU countries as full members and Non-EU countries as observers and/or being restricted in participation or voting
- EU-countries and those that are directly bound to the EU by treaties (such as EFTA countries like Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland) as full members, as well as candidate countries (Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegowina, Serbia, …; keep in mind that Turkey is a candidate country, too), and Pirate Parties from other European countries as observers and/or being restricted in participation or voting.
- All European Pirate Parties as full members(Then we need to decide how we define Europe, according to the newest definitions even Kazakhstan and Azerbaidjan have European territory.) This would include the PPs of Belarus, Kazachstan, Russia and Ukraine.
2. The second question is organizational: What kind of membership(s) do we want?
- Option A: Some have proposed that it should be organized like PPI: the same amount of votes for each country (with possible restricted/observer membership for regional parties, and organizations like the Young Pirates, PPI and PWB).
- Restricted membership is what the European Greens have for non-EU parties, it goes somewhat further than observer membership, but is short of full rights. What this exactly would entail would have to be debated during the preparation of the founding conference.
- Option B: Another idea was to organize it grassroot-like, giving each individual Pirate either automatic membership (through their national party) or the option to apply for individual membership. In this alternative each pirate would have a single vote.
There are a number of problems with both systems, A and B:
- Regarding option A, it is pretty far away from the grassroots (in the sense of Basisdemokratie) ideal that many Pirates hold very dear. This is because only Pirate Parties (and not every Pirate) would be members of the organization. The potential problem here is that the individual Pirates are not equal when represented by their party: a vote from Pirate Party Luxembourg theoretically represents less Pirates than one from Pirate Party Sweden and therefore a single Pirate from Luxembourg for example has more representation than a Pirate from Germany or France).
- Apart from the fact option B is very unpractical, there is the danger of the bigger Pirate Parties (like the German one) voting their view as the main view for PPEU, imposing their idea of democracy on the pirates of other countries. This would result in a not very pluralistic organization.
Option C: As a compromise, there was the proposition of having a mix of options A and B
- C1: a bicameral system, with one gremium composed by the individual pirates, and one where each national party (or confederation in the case of Spain) has a vote. In order to pass something it would have to get some kind of majority (50% or upwards was proposed) in both chambers. This could be seen as a pluralistic and democratic approach.
- C2: An organization where the directives that drive the organizational matters are decided by a chamber of representatives from Pirate Parties, while the political agenda is decided by the individual Pirate Parties’ members on a 1 person 1 vote basis (this also give us time to define things better, since the organization will have to be built before having a political roadmap defined)
Both of these would however not solve the problem of practicability. Because of the relative vastness of the European continent, a General Assembly (GA) in Barcelona would bring a lot of Catalan Pirates there, but not many Swedes or Greeks would make the trip. Decentralized GAs and electronic voting have been proposed to solve these issues, but the first one has not been tested, and the second one is not accepted as a good way to make decisive votes by a number of Pirate Parties. Additionally, both electronic voting and (decentralized) GAs would need to take different languages into account to not exclude non-English speaking Pirates.
Option D: Another way would be to use a system with proportional representation, based on the population of national countries (like the EU-Parliament is doing). Alternatively votes could be measured by the votes the national Pirate Parties got at the last elections to the EU Parliament. The more votes a Pirate Party got, the more votes it gets in the PPEU.
- But as not all Pirate Parties even took part in the last elections to the European Parliament and some countries do not have their own Pirate Party yet, this system is not a viable option for the PPEU (yet) (however for example, the European Greens, the PES and the ELDR use this system in a hybrid form together with a minimum of votes for each member party).
For now it seems to us authors of this text that only Option A is workable. Considering that many Pirates expressed a big need and urgency to coordinate the 2014 EP election campaign, this should be our working model.
Akin to how the European Greens do it , individual pirates that are important for the work of PPEU (like Pirate MEPs, the Board, or other individuals deemed important) could become honorary single members, and this could even be opened up to all European-minded Pirates, but with no voting rights attached.
It could be written in the statutes that we aspire to change into something more akin to Options C or D in the long run. However, an alternative idea was to use Pirates Without Borders as the place where internationally minded individual pirates could work together, and that PPEU should focus on campaign work, with an organizational structure like model A.
As noted above, whom to include for observer membership is also an issue. Regional parties like Catalonia, regional subdivisions like the German Bundesländ Pirate Parties, supranational organizations like PPI and Pirates Without Borders, the national Young Pirates and their possible international umbrella organization, and countries in neighbouring regions such as Northern Africa are all possible observer members that need to be discussed.
As you can see, there is still a lot to debate and decide and perhaps you have a recommendation on the issue of membership that has not been thought of yet. Even if you cannot join us in Prague, there are always the possibilities to either take part online or tell us your recommendation in advance, so that we might put it on the table for you. The more people contribute to this process the better it will turn out, we’re sure. Therefore, join us, join the Pirate swarm!
Justus Römeth (@DarthSquig)
Martina P. (@LunaLoof)
Benjamin Siggel (@crackpille)
Jerry Weyer (@jerryweyer)
Jens Seipenbusch (@seipenbusch)
Steffen Ortmann (@ortsman)