May 23, 2014

Shock blog Geenstijl crowd sources Dutch EP vote count

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 12:50 pm

geenpeil-geenstijl_nlThis week elections are being held for the European Parliament, a body that has become a serious democratic institution since the previous elections as a result of the Treaty of Lisbon. Yesterday it was the Dutch and English’s turn to vote. The voting will last until Sunday in the rest of the union and because of that the Dutch government has forbidden municipalities to publish their tallies until then.

Shock blog Geenstijl decided to crowd source its own exit polls based on actual vote counts.

The blog called its readers to go to the polling stations and stick around for the count. Geenstijl claims that 1,378 volunteers went to the stations to witness the public vote counting. The volunteers managed to collect tallies representing 15% of all the Dutch votes.

The results are largely similar to that of the exit poll held by Ipsos for state broadcaster NOS and in line with predictions from February. Centrist party D66 (Lib-dem) is cautiously predicted to be a winner whereas extreme right-wing PVV did not deliver on its land-slide victory promise and may even have to give up one of its four seats. My personal favourite, the Pirate Party, appears to have fared better than in the recent national elections, but the 1% or 2% of the votes they seem to have received probably won’t be enough for a seat in the EP.

The European Commission threatened the Netherlands with legal action if the country were to show a love of democracy and transparency by publishing the results before Sunday and had asked Minister Plasterk what he thought of Geenstijl’s intended stunt. Plasterk uncharacteristically told the EC he saw nothing wrong with citizens using their democratic right to be at the polling stations to witness the count.

See also: Voting booth ‘stemfie’ to be contested in court

(Illustration: screenshot of

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May 30, 2009

Supply the poor government with some much needed transparency

Filed under: General,Online by Branko Collin @ 7:15 pm

Brenno de Winter needs your money to force the government to become transparent. On June 11, he will organize a benefit in Amsterdam of which the proceeds will go to this war chest.

During his recent attempts to figure out how many local governments are using so-called Free and Open Software, several of these governments have been actively conspiring to thwart De Winter’s efforts. They ‘forgot’ to send some of the required documents, billed him for their time, and 22 municipalities and three provinces outright refused him the documents they are obliged to send, forcing him to start a separate law suit against each one of them.

De Winter expects costs to run up to EUR 7,000, an amount he is unable to cough up himself. If you can spare some cash, you can send some his way to bank account 4241287 c/o Stichting Vrijschrift in Workum. You can also visit the benefit event at the Pick-up Club at the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, which starts at 5:30 pm on Thursday, June 11, and which features an introduction to WOBing by De Winter, and a debate about transparency between journalists, hackers and civil servants.

I am an adviser to the Stichting Vrijschrift (Scriptum Libre in English) and can tell you they are legit. Their only weakness is their unwillingness to toot their own horn, so let me list some of their feats:

  • Instrumental in defeating software patents in the EU
  • Acquired financing for GPS devices for the Dutch chapter of Open Street Map
  • Working to convince the government of the benefits of open educational materials, such as text books that any teacher can edit and improve.

(More info at Iusmentis (Dutch). About the picture, is it normal that spray bottles like this one have an extra grip for a sixth finger?)

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March 29, 2007

Deep linking to parliamentary documents

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:00 am

binnenhof.jpgThe Geen Commentaar blog has built a front-end to Parlando, the government website that publishes the minutes of Dutch parliamentary sessions, including the texts of laws that are not yet in effect. The official Parlando service had several usability problems, including that it wasn’t possible to link to parliamentary documents directly, making hyperlinking far less effective, and making government far less transparent. The Dutch government has been aware of these problems since at least the end of 2005 and promised at the time to do something to improve the service, but had not even decided on a deadline by the start of this year.

Rumours have it (Dutch) that this slow progress is because the state has friends that it wants to share its big pie of work with, even at the cost of transparent government. I blogged about one of these friends before.

The new front-end can be found at

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