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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Democracy rises from fed-up-with-status quo underground

Pirate Party International

Pirates (Piratenpartei) without policy
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

Davd Budde’s “Swarm intelligence, subterranean politics”

“It is remarkable how a party rose to success which has yet to formulate a comprehensive party platform that addresses all traditional policy fields,” Budde writes. 

“The Pirate Party does not stand for certain policies but for a new way of doing politics that challenges established notions of parliamentary democracy [and] there is evidence to argue that what has made the Pirate Party so attractive to many voters was exactly the lack of substance in terms of policy proposals.”

Pirate Party
New ethos rises from underground

Subterranean politics refer to a wide spectrum of activities that fall outside the established realms of formal (party) politics, associations and organized social movements and what makes the Pirate Party “an interesting example of subterranean politics,” Budde says, is ─

 [t]he way this “party connects with notions of ─ protesting politics as usual and experimenting with new modes of democratic decision-making.

“The electoral successes of the Pirate Party show how suddenly subterranean politics can bubble up and alter the fabric of established formal politics, introducing new modes of decision-making such as ‘Liquid Feedback’ – and actually bringing disenchanted voters back into the political process.”

Pirate Party
Liquid Feedback

The Pirate Party,” Budde reports, “stands for transparent and fluid decision-making processes in which the base gets to discuss and decide on issues always and at any time in-between elections.

Using an Internet tool called “‘Liquid Feedback,’” users weigh in then vote on how the State Parliament party group votes on issues.

“… Studies have shown that up to 60 percent of Pirate Party voters come from the group of voters who did not vote in previous elections because they did not feel drawn to any party.”
Pirate Party

Democracy reinventing

Budde concludes that “it is possible the Pirate Party could turn out to be a temporary fad of disenchanted voters who want to protest the status quo”; but for the long term, “are not committed to the party and its organization.” Nevertheless it shows how subterranean politics are indeed ‘bubbling up’ and testing the spheres of established politics.”

Pirate Party
What is characteristic of subterranean politics in each country is the way in which they connect with existing cultural norms and political values on the one hand; and reaffirm or reconfigure them through new modes of political participation on the other. A variety of examples of subterranean politics suggest “a desire to talk about democracy anew and experiment with new modes of decision-making.”

Clearly, in contemporary times, there are urgent governance challenges, among them economic and fiscal crises, which demand sound policies, Budde says, [but] “it may be time to bring democracy back into the equation.”


Sources and notes

“All politics: swarm intelligence and subterranean politics in Germany” (David Budde), October 9, 2012, http://www.opendemocracy.net/david-budde/all-politics-swarm-intelligence-and-subterranean-politics-in-germany

A Pirate Party was first founded in Sweden in 2006 to organize interests around the issues of freedom of the Internet and copyright on behalf of online users whose practices of file sharing were under increasing attack.

Similar parties championing civil liberties in the Internet age have formed worldwide.

“Subterranean politics refer to a wide spectrum of activities that are not captured as political by scholars so far because they fall outside the established realms of formal (party) politics, associations and organized social movements. The twenty-first century is already rich in examples of people participating outside parties, NGOs, or other organizations.” ─ Budde

David Budde

Research Associate to the Dean at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, David Budde, MA, contributed recently to a research project on subterranean politics in Germany. His research interests are theories and the practice of political representation, new modes of governance and Middle East politics. He studied at Freie Universität in Berlin and Tel Aviv University.

English language: Pirate Party
Arabic: حزب القراصنة
Czech: Pirátská strana
Danish: Pirate party
Dutch: Piratenpartij
French: fête pirate
German: Piratenpartei
Greek: πειρατικό κόμμα
Haitian Creole: pati bato
Hausa: Pirate jam'iyya
Irish: Pirate páirtí
Italian: Partito Pirata
Norwegian: Piratpartiet
Russian: пиратская сторона
Swahilil: Pirate chama
Swedish: pirat partiet
Welsh: Môr-ladron parti


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