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EU election: FSFE Netherlands Coordinator joins Amsterdam's Digital City Debate

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EU elections debate: FSFE Netherlands coordinator adds voice for Free Software to Amsterdam's digital city debate. Now it's your chance to highlight the importance of Free Software in the lead-up to the upcoming European Elections next week.

Picture showing the main stage for the debate, showing three stands for the candidates with a presentation on the background

With the European Elections approaching, the FSFE prompts a call to action, pointing out the importance of including Software Freedom in the political debate. On May 29, 2024, the city of Amsterdam organized the "Digitale Stad" debate, focusing on the online world of Amsterdammers and the impact of technology on the city and its residents in view of the European Elections, taking place between June 6 and 9 2024. The FSFE Netherlands coordinator, Nico Rikken, actively participated in this discussion, asking a question about Free Software.

FSFE Netherlands coordinator question that leads into a discussion during a Digital City Debate in Amsterdam. He asks (in Dutch):"I think in March something beautiful happened in Amsterdam: the proposal 'Amsterdam Digital Independent' (or 'autonomous') was adopted. I was wondering: in it open source is mentioned to promote autonomy, but also to promote transparency. I would say this aligns with the points of the NSC. What will you do in Europe to bring that further and to support governments and municipalities to really progress free and open source software?"

In the debate, the FSFE Netherlands coordinator emphasises the significance of Free Software in public administrations and its role in ensuring digital autonomy and a resilient digital society. This engagement highlights the importance for the Free Software community to get active and ensure its voice is heard in the upcoming elections. The FSFE empowers users to control technology and helps its community to make an impact. The experience of the Netherlands local group shows how this is possible:

“The European elections are a great opportunity to make an impact. For past elections we've contacted politicians and organized a “Freedomote” voting toolkit. That involved quite some work and had little impact. We discussed opportunities at our get-together and following the FSFE guide we looked into debates as a way to get in direct contact with candidates. Turns out there was one debate scheduled on digitization, held at DeBalie in Amsterdam, a location that frequently hosts debates. Looking at videos of past debates we concluded that it was at a small scale, and that there would be opportunity to speak to candidates before and after and that there was an opportunity for questions from the audience, as well. So in our online get-together we prepared a question to ask if we got the opportunity. To sum it up: little upfront investment, a bit of time to attend a great debate and made quite an impact”, explains Nico Rikken, FSFE Netherlands’ Coordinator.

With one week left to the elections, it is important to get involved and make your voices heard! The Netherlands local group meets regularly online and is very active. After reading the FSFE’s advice on how to get active during electoral campaign, they discussed together the opportunity to take part in a debate during one of their regular meet-ups. They elaborated possible questions to ask the candidates and took part in a debate happening in their area. This is only one example of the activities that local groups around Europe do every day. If you want to take part in one of the FSFE’s local groups, you will find one near you!