by Raphael Haase

The last four days, I was able to a trip to the German parliament, the Bundestag in Berlin.

We did a an extensive tour of all the interesting sites in Berlin and learned about how the political system works in Germany and some of the historical sites. It was a very compressed tour through the capital of Germany.

I was invited to join by MP Jimmy Schulz, a representative of the the German liberal party, FDP. Jimmy is primarily engaged in internet governance topics.

We saw some interesting sites in Berlin: the Stasi Museum, the Bavarian embassy in Berlin, the Bundesrat and the Bundestag.

The Stasi Museum is an exhibition about the tools and processes of the Stasi, East Germany’s former feared secret service. The Stasi was primarily engaged in surveilling their own people and distributing fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The Bavarian embassy plays a somewhat funny role: Our host described its purpose as monitoring policy making in Berlin, reporting what happens southwards to Munich and lobbying decisions in Berlin in favor of Bavaria. It sounded as if Berlin was a Bavarian colony.

The Bundesrat, for all non-Germans, is a the parliament that represents the German states. Germany has both a national parliament and a second one that represent the individual states. That one is the Bundesrat. All laws have to go through both parliaments (and some more instances) to become binding.

In the Bundestag, we learned of course how sessions work in detail, how the building itself was recreated and in part moved there from West Germany’s old capital city. And of course, the tour guide did not leave out some trivia about the building like that some people were born in this very building as it was used as a hospital during the siege on Berlin at the end of World War 2. This enables them to enter the building without registration at any time if they wish.

Jimmy also told us a bit about his political work, while we were sitting in the meeting room of the liberal party. He commented on an important vote of the parliament a week before, the European Financial Stability Facility and brought up a very emotional argument on his decision that many in the room liked. He further explained the importance of internet governance and explained his liquid democracy project.

Liquid democracy is an internet-augmented way of collecting ideas and reaching consensus faster and with more grass-roots like participation by the people.

Finally, Jimmy asked me to support his effort in making Germany aware of Internet governance and shape the policy making process. Apparently, there is an astoundingly small amount of people in the FDP who are knowledgable about internet governance.

While I loved the increasing importance of the German Pirate party, I do not believe in the party. I think that they are still more of a lobbying organization than a party. They do not seem to have any position on many topics (e.g. financial policies)