Democracy/Meeting/12 11 2012

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Democracy Toicon-icon-avocado-discuss.svg
Workgroup Democracy
Date Mon 12 November 2012
Time ?
1000 Brussels
Attendees Michel Lefebvre, Pierre-Alexandre Klein, Alexandre Zénon.
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The first meeting of the DemocracySquad was held in Brussels. Present were Michel Lefebvre, Pierre-Alexandre Klein and Alexandre Zénon.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss about the statutes of the party. Formal propositions need to be submitted by Nov. 21st.

Direct democracy and the Pirate party

One topic of discussion in this context was the inclusion of direct democracy as a basic principle of the pirate party, written in the statutes. The possibility to adhere to the E2D manifesto was discussed. One potential issue is with the concept of neutrality of the party, i.e. the prevalence of democracy principles over other pirate governing principles such as transparency, privacy and freedom of intellectual property. For instance, if citizens choose to vote for a strengthening of copyright laws, will the pirates follow this decision, given that it is against their principles?

Another topic of discussion was the rules governing the behavior of elected representatives. It was said that they should sign some contract with the party, ensuring they will vote only according to the choices of the citizens. This is however illegal (see this document): "Le système représentatif ainsi instauré par la Constitution implique que les représentants de la na- tion prennent eux-mêmes les décisions dans les matières relevant de leur compétence et que, dans l’exercice de leur mandat, ils ne peuvent être liés, ni en droit, ni en fait." "Het door de Grondwet aldus ingesteld representatieve stelsel impliceert dat het de volksvertegenwoordigende vergaderingen zijn die de beslis- singen nemen in de aangelegenheden die tot hun bevoegd- heid behoren en dat ze in de uitoefening van hun mandaat, noch in rechte, noch in feite, mogen worden gebonden."

The structure of the party

Another topic is the way to modify the structure of the party to address a list of issues that we are currently facing: - excess of centralization of power and responsibilities - lack of trust in this centralized power - lack of transparency (e.g. budget) - lack of information flow

The "ideal" form

We all agreed that the ideal form of structure would be a purely decentralized one but we are unsure about the practicality of it. All the different functions of the party could be fulfilled by Squads or a similar entity, e.g. administrative tasks, budget, international communication, organization of a party, etc... Anybody could join any Squad. The advantages would be the total openness of the system, the potential for education of the newbies by the most skilled participants in the Squad, the division of the tasks in multiple subtasks, etc... The term "Fleet" was proposed to be used to describe that kind of operational entity (unlimited in time) to diferenciate it from the Squads which are project entities (limited in time). But the problems arise especially when the work of such a Squad would affect all the other pirates (e.g. budget). In that case, it is unsure whether this type of organization would allow the work to be done well and in time. It is also unsure how the information about what all the squads are doing would be shared.

Some level of centralization

A probably better solution would be to have some level of centralization, but keeping it minimal. We prefer to avoid, as far as possible, giving any task to a single elected person. So this centralization organism would be a community of persons. We discussed many different possibilities: free assemblies of any Pirates, Council of Crews Captains, Council of Crews Navigators, etc...

Council of Captains, Navigators or Quarter-Masters

An interesting idea was to have each of the responsibility positions within a Crew gather in regular assemblies, whose role would be specific to the position within the Crew. For instance, Council of Captains would have an arbitration role (deciding on reclamations raised by other Pirates). Council of Navigators would be responsible for working on communication aspects of the party. And Quarter-Master(?, Quartier-Maitre), could have this role of centralizing the work of all the Squads.

How this would work

So for instance, the Council of Quarter-Masters would gather every 2 weeks or so. One of the crews would be selected randomly to preside the meeting and would change regularly (rotating presidency). All the members of this particular assembly would then participate and prepare the agenda, invite the Squads representatives, write the minutes, etc... The advancement of each of the Squads would then be successively reviewed, with an emphasis on Squads that have a global role for all the pirates and for which the deadline is approaching. Squad participants could be invited to the meeting in order to present their advancement. Then the possibility to define new workgroups could be discussed. If the creation of a new workgroup is decided, at least one of the participants of the meeting takes the responsibility to form a Squad to fulfill this particular function. An associated agenda would be created.

Outstanding questions

How to deal with the different regions-subregions? What to do when a squad does not satisfy? What to do if the presidency of the meetings is not satisfying? ...