The Listening Pirate

There have been several Pirate Party election candidates to date, but Jeff Coleman is notable for two reasons.

The Canadian appears to be the first to stand for a national election outside of Europe: he’s contesting the Winnipeg North seat in a by-election next Tuesday.* (A by-election, like a special election in the United States, fills a vacancy outside of the usual nationwide election cycle.)

He’s also going beyond the traditional Pirate Party platform of intellectual property law reform, a free internet, and the right to online privacy. Instead Coleman is appealing to local voters through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to come up with policies on local issues, a technique the party describes as “a crowdsourced listening campaign.”

According to Coleman, the aim is to “provide a voice for all residents of the riding, irrespective of their political leanings and election results.” And to give credit, it’s certainly true that he’s talking to people who don’t exactly appear to be natural supporters of a technology-based party:

Indeed, if you assumed the Pirate Party was a purely high-tech operation, you’d be wrong. The campaign has also involved a very old-school, analog take on the “remix”:

Coleman isn’t the first person to stand for election on a platform of using tech to listen to the people. Denny de le Haye stood as an independent candidate in the United Kingdom elections last year with the sole policy of running online polls to decide how he should vote in each Parliamentary debate. It appeared locals didn’t go for the idea of closer involvement: he received just 95 votes.

* In the interests of balance, the full list of candidates in the Winnipeg North election is: Kevin Chief (New Democratic Party), Jeff Coleman (Pirate Party of Canada), John T. Harvie (Green Party of Canada), Julie C. Javier (Conservative Party of Canada), Frank Komarniski (Communist Party of Canada), Kevin Lamoureux (Liberal Party of Canada), Eric Truijen (Christian Heritage Party of Canada).

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