So after a long day of bureaucracy, voting the PPI conference is finally over.
For the formal GA, it seemed that 22 parties were present in the room, or as remote delegates (growing to 23 later - but we'll come to that). That list included the Pirate Parties of Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Catalonia, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Khazakstan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and United Kingdom. So whilst its a diverse group PPI continues to be overrepresented from the Parties in and around Europe.
The morning was occupied by discussions and votes intended to establish if the current General Assembly was legitimate and decide whether it was announced within the correct time frame. Ultimately those present accepted Gregory Engles' explanations and his apology, not everyone was happy with the result, but it it allowed the conference to move on.
A bright point was two new parties, Norway and Costa Rica applying to become Ordinary Members, with an additional party applying for membership after the deadline. The room voted to admit the Pirate Party of Norway into PPI and deferred the applications of the Second Pirate Party of Greece and the Pirate Party of Costa Rica to the next Assembly because there was a feeling that the information provided was insufficient. So, halfway through the conference, the PPI family was a little larger than it had been at the beginning.
The meeting then proceeded to the Board reports to the membership. Gregory Engles, PPI Board Co-Chair, failed to produce a written report once again but gave a verbal report detailing a failed application to WIPO, the abandonment of an international press platform due to communication difficulties and the pinning of blame of PPIs financial situation onto the previous treasurer, but more on that later. Fortunately, It was not all doom and gloom as there has been some successes such as the think twice conference and Gregory committing himself to produce an official report in the coming weeks. A little preparation and planning would have been appreciated, it usually prevents... problems.
A big chunk of the middle of the day was given over to deciding whether PPI members should be paying membership fee. Andy Halsall covers that in more detail here, but broadly, the PPI will now charge fees. The calculation is overly complex, and a number of motions were passed to reduce the amount of the fee in certain circumstances , and limit which parties are required to pay, so it'll be interesting to see how much money actually arrives.
The last part of the Assembly was about statute amendments and board appointments.
Its worth noting that the votes weren't quite plain sailing, with the chair initially announcing that both votes had changed, before reading the rules and changing the result. This doesn't look great, even if it was dealt with openly. The changes to the statutes were intended to change some of the PPI's structures, sadly I don't think that these go any way to helping PPI meet its own aims and goals. So, swiftly moving on.
People were next on the agenda. Officer elections started with the vote to elect the two co-chairmen. After the formal presentations by the candidates including one by 'Patrick Godschalk ' intended essentially to invalidate the GA, and a very lengthy vote, Koen De Voegt and Maša Čorak we appointed as the new co-chairs.
Koen De Voegt is a member from Pirate Party of Belgium that feels an innovative movement "is not based on keeping information from others." He's an engineer and will be standing for the Belgian Pirate Party in upcoming elections in Flanders.
Maša Čorak - is a member from Pirate Party Croatia that intends to "invest a great deal of energy in networking, connecting pirates that still aren't connected." She has stood in European elections gaining 1.3% of the vote nationwide in croatia, an achievement only heightened by the fact that these were the Pirate Party Croatia first elections and that they only had about 3 weeks to prepare and execute the entire campaign!
Next up were board elections, which included several votes before all the seats were filled, followed by alternative board members, the court and lay auditors. I'm looking forward to seeing if the new personalities within PPI can do a better job that those they replaced.
What I'm going to take away from a long and day, and a slightly disappointing conference is that there is now a window of opportunity for change. I'm really pleased that both the new co-chairs have indicated that they feel the movement needs more international cooperation and knowledge sharing. I hope the two new chairs will be high successful and wish them the best of luck in taking the organisation in this new direction, because they need to lead this organisation and help it deliver on its aims.
As well as the discussions between Pirates in Paris and the changes in PPI personalities, I'm excited to learn that Germany's Gefion Thuermer has decided that she wants to get involved with the Pirate Party in the UK when her term on the German board is over.
I know that Andy has worked with Gefion a few times in an international context and I've seen some of her work at a distance - I also know she has the respect of Pirates in Germany and around the world. She will be a great asset to the UK party in whatever she decides she wants to do. Gefion has written an introduction here go take a look and if you want to join Gefion in getting involved with the party, whatever your experience, interests or skills, go volunteer!
You can watch the whole conference below (6hrs 52 minutes)
Correction: this article orignally stated there were 23 parties in attendance, and has been corrected to state that there were 22. The initial number was based on the number of votes seemingly in the early motions, PPI has informed us that this isn't accurate.
Co-chair photo - Jens Stromber