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Sigrid Quack and Leonhard Dobusch comment on the election results of the German “Piratenpartei” based on their research project “The Copyright Dispute”.

On Sunday, 27 September 2009, the Pirate Party running for the first time in German federal elections promptly won 2 percent of the votes. In some constituencies, particularly in university towns and urban centres, it gained up to 6 percent. In total, 850.000 voters cast their ballot for the Pirate Party (see official results and DW-World).

Piratenergebnisse-BRD-WebWhile this result does not bring the Pirate Party into the German parliament because of its 5 percent barring clause, this is nevertheless a quite impressive result for a young party which was founded only three years ago. Just to compare, the Green Party gained only 1.5 percent in its first run for German Federal elections in 1980, even though it had reunified a number of regional parties with experience in municipal councils and Länder parliaments. According to Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, an independent polling institute, the gains of the Pirate Party are part of a “historic gain’” of small parties in the last elections.

First signs of the Pirate Party gaining electoral support became visible in the elections for the European Parliament earlier on 7 June this year, where the Pirate Party obtained 0.9 percent (see also “Copyright Related Social Movements: Pirate Parties and the European Parliamentary Elections”). In the North Rhine-Westphalian communal elections on 30 August, members of the Pirate Party gained seats in the municipal councils of the cities of Münster and Aachen. In parallel to its public visibility and electoral support, the membership of the Pirate Party has been growing rapidly to currently close to 10,000 members, out of which about 8,000 joined the party during the last four months.

Still, this leaves interesting questions about what made nearly a million people vote for a relatively unknown and unestablished party, and what the perspectives of this party are for the next elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2010. Is the Pirate Party comparable to a “Biertrinker-Partei” (“beer drinker party”), as suggested by political scientist Oscar W. Gabriel (see pr-inside.com, German), and is therefore its success a short flash that will disappear as soon as it popped up?

In the following we will suggest that to be better understood, the development of the Pirate Party in Germany needs to be situated in a broader context: The gains of the Pirate Party build on both, a network of transnational activists criticising an, in their view, unbalanced extension of copyright protection and more localised social movements concerned with new data retention and surveillance plans. The internet is the place where these rather broad trends enter everyday life experience of people, and particularly those of having jobs in computing, software, creative industries, media, education, research, universities – not to speak of the palpable and rather concrete experiences of all those who wish to download music, share files and access open content in their free time. Read the rest of this entry »

It doesn’t happen very often that technical matters like accounting standards make it into the final declaration of a G20 summit, agreed by the heads of government of the world’s leading nations. Nevertheless, yesterday it happened (PDF). After deliberating for two days in the City of London about the appropriate means to cure the most severe worldwide financial crisis since 1929, the leaders of the G20 stated in their declaration on strengthening the financial system

We have agreed that the accounting standard setters should improve standards for the valuation of financial instruments based on their liquidity and investors’ holding horizons…. We also welcome the FSF recommendation on procyclicality that address accounting issues. We have agreed that accounting standard setters should take action by the end of 2009 to … (for more see PDF)

Why did something so mundane make it to the agenda of world politics? While it is certainly the merit of Nicolas Sarkozy’s populist threat to walk demonstratively out of the summit that made bloggers and newspaper writers wonder whether accounting standards could save the G20, the reasons for the G20 leaders dealing with “fair value” and “dynamic provision” are certainly more complex. Some, like David Zaring, also wonder whether the G20 summit produced more than just rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »

The financial crisis is turning many things upside down. Nevertheless, it is amazing to see how the positions of key market actors on financial reporting standards have changed since the crisis started. While investment banks, accounting firms, regulators and governments in the heyday of financial market capitalism stood firmly together in unanimous and unfettered support of fair value accounting, this front has been collapsing.

In April 2008, Neue Züricher Zeitung reported Claude Bébéar, president of the French Insurance Group Axa, as saying that mark-to-market rules which require firms to value assets according to (hypothetical) market prices had contributed to the financial crisis. Henri de Castries, CEO of the same group, was quoted as referring to a “conceptual mistake” which had forced companies and banks to write down billions of assets. In September 2008, Newt Gingrich commented on Forbes.com “Suspend Mark-to-Market Now!”, quoting Brian S. Webury, chief economist at First Trust Portfolios of Chicago:

“It is true that the root of this crisis is bad mortgage loan, but probably 70% of the real crisis that we face today is caused by mark-to-market accounting in an illiquid market.”

With the financial crisis lingering on and politicians, regulators and banks still searching for solutions, debates on the pros and cons of mark-to-market accounting have perked up again during the last weeks.

On March 11, 2009, investor Warren Buffet admitted in an CBNC interview that mark-to-market had been “gasoline on the fire” while remarkably equivocally maintaining that Read the rest of this entry »

“Epistemic Communities and Social Movements: Transnational Dynamics in the Case of Creative Commons” is the title of a new MPIFG Discussion Paper that Leonhard and I released last summer (PDF). The abstract reads as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
October 2021
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