Why the Pirate Party does not appeal to German voters in 2013 (probably)

Germany is about to go to the ballot boxes this year on September 22nd. Piratenpartei Deutschland Logo

One party caught my interest as they serve the Germany’s nerds: the Pirate Party.
But since their first and much applauded appearance on the political scene of the European parliament in 2009, the Berlin Senate in 2011 and several other German regional parliaments the party’s fortune has changed.

Executives come and go, shame-flame one another. Today, the party appears as a vanity fair to the outsider, or better, a feast of hurt feelings served cold.

Having seen some of their election posters about privacy, open access to data, and new participation schemes in Berlin, I went through their program and could not really say what they stand for.
So I tried to get an impression of their candidates and found many faces of youngsters, some of them born around the Fall of the Berlin Wall, coming from all over Germany to run for the Berlin Senate, the local government. That’s a big minus since local policy should be made by people who know how their neighbors tick. And Berlin has at least two neighborhoods, the East and the West. But my personal opinion shall not count here.

Since their topics are deeply linked to technical themes, one has to understand the inner clockwork of the party to draw some conclusions and why they will probably fail the election.

  1. The concept of “Liquid Democracy” or swarm intelligence: the party policy is determined by majority votes on proposals emerging from citizens.
    This gorgeous idea puts direct influence back into voters’ hands in a representative democracy.
    But why is this concept only supported by a software, called “liquid feedback”, which in turn can be only accessed by party members? Open access?
    Secondly, people are no rationals or Borgs anytime and anywhere which means that such a process of discussing a topic and assembling the votes has to be moderated. Some people may have misconceptions. others need a firm statement about the pros and cons, and sensitive issues are best settled face to face. And software has no face, it might even let people lose face.
    To put it more bluntly: a software as the only tool supporting this concept is just an extension of the mechanized, de-personalised world voters know (and loathe) from their office IT, their telecoms, and their banks. People vote for people they know and they can touch.
    Policy is a matter of disagreement and making votes not the process of collecting voices. So there’s a second, much larger drawback looming.
  2. The concept of policing by processing: the concept of “liquid democyracy” degenerates the party into a sort of an “processing shell” of movements. Such an organizational structure throws its stakeholders into a permanent instability since they need to be flexible towards any emerging topic. By that and with the precondition of rationality, any upcoming topic has to be learned and no professionalism or routine can arise.
    That means, a party like this is as intelligent as its weakest link whereas intelligence depends on contingency or coincidental discovery of topics.
    Just an example, ask them what’s their solution for the imbalance in public finance and they will tell you that they will wise up themselves.
    Systemic analysts would assume such an organization to decay, psychologists like Prof. Kruse (mind-blowing but only German language: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLFyoT7SJFs) would call such a brain “psychotic”.
    Plus, any system in disorder on the organizational level allows structure and leaders to take control – that’s how ideology and power struggles set in.
    There, they are!

Change cannot be managed by “panta rei” on an organizational level!

German voters will supposedly avoid such an unstable faction since they want stability and orientation for their life. And most of that happens outside of the world of IT.


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