Germany's CDU, Angela Merkel's Party Of Fuddy-Duddies, Decides To Join The Cool Kids: Backs Open Standards, Open Source, Open Data, Open APIs — Open Everything
from the it's-groovy,-man dept
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany is Angela Merkel’s party. She led it for 18 years before resigning last year as leader, but remaining as Chancellor of Germany until 2021. It is a party that has often held the reins of power in Germany, but has seen a steady decline in membership over the last 30 years. From a peak of nearly 800,000 in 1990, it is now down to around half that. According to figures on Wikipedia, in 2012, the members’ average age was 59 years, and 6% of the Christian Democrats were under 30 years old. In other words, it is German’s party of old fuddy-duddies. Against that historical background, the following passage from its “Digital Charter”, agreed during its recent party conference, is noteworthy (original in German pdf):
The open and jointly developed standards of the Internet and open interfaces are the principles from which we advance the digitisation of Germany. It is only through openness that competition can be created; only through openness can new players in competition challenge the top dogs. This is why the following will apply to all (public) digitisation projects in Germany in the future: the awarding of contracts and funding will be subject to compliance with the principles of open source and open standards. Software financed by public funds should serve all citizens. In addition, free and open APIs should facilitate access for independent developments.
That’s an impressive hit-rate for the “opens”: openness, open interfaces, open source, open standards. Also thrown in for good measure is the idea that publicly-funded code should be available to everyone — presumably as open source. Elsewhere in the document, the Digital Charter speaks approvingly of open data and open educational resources (OER), and promises to create an “open public repository” of re-usable digital components. On the downside, the document also includes the usual platitudes about blockchains, AI, 5G and “smart cities”, as well as rolling out tired buzzwords such as “agility”, “sandboxing” and “decentralization”.
Nonetheless, the emphasis on openness in all its forms is striking and thoroughgoing. The Digital Charter may not commit the party to doing anything concrete very soon. But it’s a clear and welcome sign that openness has entered the mainstream to such an extent that even the fuddy-duddies get it.