In Greece, after many months of rule by a government of questionable constitutional authority and complete mismatch with the public will of Greek citizens, we were allowed to hold elections
For this election, the «old» political parties were funded with an extra 10 million euros, in excess of the 54 million euros – the regular funding amount. However, these parties, who are supposed to save the country, owe more than 240 million euros in debt, which is equal to their five-year income!
The Pirate Party of Greece is 3 months old, has 800 members and is competing in the same political arena as the parties above, being a choice for 80% of Greek citizens in the elections.
Without any funding beyond its members’ and friends’ subscriptions and donations, the Pirate Party decided to apply a crowd-funding model for its economics.
Indeed, 20 euros from each member, or 40 euros from half of them are enough to cover our total expenses for the elections, which include printing and shipping of the ballots (tasks for which parties are responsible).
We were approved by the Supreme Court, got a VAT number from tax authorities, we validated an income-expenses registry by the Greek Parliament, we opened a bank account and began to collect the subscriptions (12 euros) and/or donations from our members. By the morning of the 24th of April, we had collected about half of the 15.000 euros which are deemed necessary for our expenses.
Of course we didn’t take into account that some people would do their best to complicate the birth of something new.
Paper for the ballots
In the national elections, each party which has candidates in at least 1/3 of the country’s prefectures is entitled to free paper for printing their ballots.
The law also requires that 8 days before the elections (Friday night, 27/4 in this case), parties should have delivered the ballots at all the offices of prefectures all over Greece.
So this is what really happened:
1. We got the injunctive to receive the paper (dimensions: 70x100cm) in the morning of Tuesday, 24th of April, and we must print and send 9,000,000 ballots to all the prefectures by the 27th of April.
2. The warehouse opened at 15:00 of the 24th of April, but there were only 70-80 pallets of paper, when each party needs approximately 50 pallets for nationwide coverage. (There was a truck which would go somewhere, and return after an hour, with more pallets).
3. The 70x100cm paper had run out, and we were presented with an out of specifications alternative of 86X61cm. The 70x100cm paper was given to the «old» parties, those with the most state funding, so they could print cheaply.
However, we need to perform about 40% more passes through the press machine, and hence a corresponding increase in printing costs of our ballots.
4. Finally, at around 17:30, we received the paper, losing the ability to ship the paper to the press company in the same day.
So we started printing. Deadlines are of course impossible to meet. The Ministry of Internal Affairs put out a statement saying that due to «shortage of time», the prefectures must receive the ballots even after the deadline, in a «reasonable period of time», however without specifying how much time is considered reasonable. So, each prefecture does something else!
Employees of the Region of Attica for example decided that the reasonable period of time is until Sunday, the 29th. The prefecture commissioner of Rhodes will just follow … «what is set by the law»!
Ban on e-banking!
We received on Tuesday, 24th of April, an urgent notice by our bank, that a mandate of the Audit Committee on Finance of Parties and Politicians, blocked all transfers of funds through the interbanking system and through web banking for political party bank accounts, because it is not possible to identify who performs the deposits.
Therefore, anyone who wants to make a contribution to a political party is required to go in person to a bank which maintains the candidate’s and/or party’s accounts, in order to deposit their donation, with mandatory disclosure of their identity. Thereby the possibility of aid by those with no direct access to a bank branch, such as Greeks living abroad who want to aid us, is excluded, while the bank keeps a database of members and friends of the party (!)
So for now, the only way to support the Pirate Party is by an in-person transaction at the bank, within Greece.
There is a law that sets how much time each political party is entitled to for advertisements on national television. However, the Pirate Party of Greece is excluded from this process (So are other new parties). Parliamentary democracy in Greece does its best to prevent any effort and suppress any move aimed to change the situation in the country.
Why do they fear the Pirates?
It is obvious that the game is not played on equal terms.
The political establishment is doing everything in its power to prevent change, but change is inevitable.
We, Pirates, state that the difficulties we are being put through won’t disappoint or deter us. On the contrary, they motivate us to try and establish a real democracy, with equal opportunities for everyone.
It is clear that citizens demand a change in the political scene of Greece, while the current political establishment frantically, but unsuccessfully, tries to maintain the status quo.