I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that we should be having a couple of Voter Apps in Wales this year. These are websites where people are questioned about their views on political issues, and the Apps try to match them to the party closest to them in the political issue space.
Today we are launching http://www.walesvote16.com/. This is an online application that enables voters to compare their views with the policy positions of the main political parties that are competing in the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections. WalesVote16 provides a number of results based on different methods of calculating how well the users and the political parties match.
As we explain on the site, WalesVote16.com is not designed to tell citizens how they should vote; only to allow them to see where they stand compared to the main parties across a range of policy issues.
The project has been developed with some colleagues in Switzerland who are experienced in putting together these sorts of Apps, and developed in parallel with similar ones for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A few other details, in relation to questions you may have:
How does it work? The procedure is simple: before an election, the positions of the main parties on a range of policy issues are determined by a group of independent coders (mostly advanced political science students). Users visiting the website can then express their political preferences on the same policy issues by answering the questionnaire. The system then matches the answers of the parties with those of the users. The results show how close or distant the various political parties are to the user.
How independent is it? WalesVote16.com is a strictly academic project and is not affiliated with any political party or movement.
How were the questions selected? The questions were selected by researchers from the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University. Political parties had no impact on the choice of the questions. The questionnaire was organized around a number of themes: Welfare and Education, the Economy, Foreign Affairs and Defence, the Environment, Society, Immigration and Devolution.
How were the positions of parties determined? The party positions were determined by a team of political scientists on the basis of various sources of information (such as party programmes, interviews with candidates and party leaders, politicians’ speeches, and the opinions of outside experts). Party positions were estimated over multiple rounds of anonymous coding. Altogether six parties were coded: Labour, Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens.
The page is now live. So have fun playing with it, and please recommend it to all your friends.