The French Free Software Association April is running its “Free Software Pact” campaign again for this years European Elections. Aim of this campaign is to enlighten candidates for the European Elections 2014 about Free Software by signing a “Free Software Pact” at the same time. Core demands of this pact are:

[…] I therefore undertake to:

  • Encourage all administrations, all public or local services to prefer Free Software and open standards in their choices, purchases and own developments;
  • Support active policies in favour of Free Software, and oppose any discrimination against it ;
  • Stand up for Free Software authors’ and users’ rights, especially by requiring the modification of any legal text currently weakening those rights, and opposing any legal project that would lead to such consequences.

In the past, April was very successful with this campaign. For the last European Elections, 2009, they have been able to collect 231 signatories out of 10 different countries. Unfortunately, this time there have been some starting problems, that is why time is already running short. The more urgent it is to become active immediately. This blogpost is supposed to help you in becoming active.

Template for re-use

I just started today to contact the list of candidates of the conservative party CDU here in the state of Berlin, Germany. In the following you will find the text that I have been using until now. Maybe it can be helpful for one or the other in phrasing his own text. Anyway, you are free to use this text in a whole, in part or as an inspiration for your own activity.

Dear Sir/Madam [Name]

I am a [ member / engaged / volunteer …] of the Free Software Foundation Europe and I am writing you today because you are running for office in the name the of the [name of party] for the European Elections 2014.

Note: This part, the salutation, is hopefully self-explaining. Of course, the bracketed [content] has to be adapted to your own and any specific request. Also very helpful might be to have a quick research about the candidate and his personal life and find some more characteristic that – at best – match both of you. This could be for example:

  • The candidate is a leading candidate – in this case you should refer to this person as the leading candidate. Most people are happy if other people refer to their position.
  • Also, if a candidate is already Member of the Parliament, you should mention this in your introduction (e.g. “[…] am writing you today in your position as current Member of the European Parliament and candidate for the European Elections 2014 […]”)
  • The candidate might be active in or supporting an association you also support. This has not to be about Free Software, but can also be for example the Red Cross. If you mention something like this as an honest similarity between you, you will receive much more attention by the receiver, for sure.
  • The candidate is grown up where you live, you share a common hobbyhorse, you have met him personal before or other correlations that you can find are definitively helpful in contacting candidates and getting their attention

In addition, I recommend to search through the homepage of the candidate to find an address of an assistant or staff and put him in CC (but keep the text itself addressed to the candidate). This can be helpful as staff and assistants of politicians are often paid to look through the candidates mail, rate it, put it on the agenda or even recommend him to sign it. This way, a respond – even a refusal – is much more likely.

This time, I would love to give a political signal into the direction of a healthy development for Europeans digital society. That is why I just like to vote for a party, whose majority of candidates support and promote the growing of Free Software. If you also support Europeans digital sustainability, independence and diversity, I ask you today to sign the “Free Software Pact”. It is a simple document with that you can publicly express your support of this campaign

Note: After the introduction, this text module directly addresses the purpose of your message, short and concrete. Explaining yourself briefly and quickly is important, because many receivers stop after the first paragraph or at least decide if they continue reading or not. I decided to write “[…] whose majority of candidates […]” because in most of the European countries you are not able to vote a candidate directly but to vote a list of candidates. In addition, especially for small parties or opposition parties, it might be that their members have mutual influence on each other if they sign the pact or not.

To show your support, you can download, read and print the “Free Software Pact” here:
or you can use the document attached to this email. Afterwards, please send the signed document back to April via post, fax or scanned and attached to an email. You will find the contact address on the very same document.

Henceforth, all signees of the pact will be listed as a supporter of the campaign on its homepage:
Various organisations – like the French April and the Free Software Foundation Europe – will advertise this list and state a public endorsement to vote for the candidates on the list.

Hence, with your signature you can show that you support Free Software and use it as a boost for your own election campaign at the same time.

Note: This text module briefly explains the organisational procedure including all important details and pros for the candidate. Because it is to expect that most candidates will ask themselves what their pay-off will be if they sign the pact.

I would be pleased to find a supporter of Free Software in you and to receive a notice of receipt by you.

Sincerely yours

Note: some motivating words in the end and a request for a notice of receipt. I have not yet experience in the latter, but I can imagine, that – especially if you put staff into CC – they will send you such a notice. This is a good starting point to follow-up after a week and ask the same candidate again if he already signed the pact or not.