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Get Active: “Public Money? Public Code!” in the Kassel city parliament

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Written by Bonnie Mehring

Our EU-wide campaign "Public Money? Public Code!" has made it to the city parliament in Kassel (Germany). The parliamentary group, consisting of FDP, Freie Wähler (Free Voters) and Pirates, has proposed a motion "Public Money - Public Code as a Principle in Software Procurement". The motion calls on the magistrate to follow the principle of "Public Money, Public Code" when purchasing new software and to focus increasingly on Free Software as well as Open Standards.

The responsible committee on finance, economics and fundamental issues will vote on the motion on 27 November 2019 15 January 2020, while a vote in the city parliament will take place later on 9 December 2019 27 January 2020. A reason for us to take action: With a letter and our expert brochure we have approached the members of the parliament to convince them to approve the motion. However, there does not seem to be a majority for the motion so far, so we need your help to contact the politicians by e-mail or letter!

The political positions on Free Software in the Kassel city parliament

The coalition of SPD, Greens and Liberale Liste, has written in their coalition agreement that they are in favor of a more transparent and informative digital presence for the city. Thus, according to the coalition partners, the "opportunities for citizens to participate, including by digital means, should be improved".

Those goals could be reached through the use of Free Software in the public infrastructure. Free Software grants the user the rights

Therefore, the use of Free Software and thereby the guarantee of these four freedoms would allow more transparency in the digital infrastructure. Through the use of Free Software in the public administration, the government can also give something back to the citizens and, from a long-term perspective, support the local economy by allowing them to participate in the development and improvement of the digital infrastructure. In this way, the "opportunities for citizens to participate, including by digital means,” can be improved.

The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Hessen, also approves of the use of Free Software. They wrote in their basic program: "Free access to the possibilities of the new media also includes the increased use of Free Software. We therefore call for the use of open source systems in educational institutions and in public administration, where it makes sense."

Despite these examples for the commitment of the governing parties in the Kassel city parliament the proposal for “Public Money – Public Code” as a guiding principle has little chance of success so far. Although the Greens are actually in favour of it, Green politician and group leader Boris Mijatovic has denied approval of the proposal. Mijatovic asserts that the Greens are in favor of the motion and the city is active in this topic, but says that the motion was introduced by the "wrong" parliamentarien group, who cannot convince in this topic.

Boris Mijatovic, chairman of the Green group
"So far no. Sympathies for the cause are present, and the city is also active in the field. But the motion comes from a group that cannot convince in this point."

The Greens are also not willing to submit an alternative motion - so that it would come from the "correct" parliamentarian group - as they believe that there would be no majority in this legislature for a motion like the proposed one, and that politics is also a question of opportunities. Although the Greens are in the coalition, the coalition cannot get a majority for the use of Free Software. This seems surprising, especially as they cannot at the same time get themselves to vote in favor of the motion.

Boris Mijatovic, chairman of the Green group
"I am afraid there is no majority for this in this legislature. It is a pity, but politics is also a question of opportunities."

To get a majority in the Kassel city parliament for the motion to implement “Public Money? Public Code!” as a guiding principle for new software purchase, we need your help.

Convince the coalition factions and parliamentarians to vote for this motion. Write a letter or an e-mail. You can find a template on our wiki page. The contact addresses can be found on the page of the Kassler City Parliament