Today, a very exciting and long-awaited project is officially launched in Brussels, the EU Profiler (http://www.euprofiler.eu)
Readers of this blog may have read an older post on the various online tools deployed which allow any citizen to match his/her personal political preferences to the various official party lines; projects of this kind include the Electoral Compass, Glassbooth, Smartvote and the Stemwijer.
The EU Profiler aims to do exactly that for the upcoming European Parliament elections in June 2009, where more than 300 million voters will elect 736 MEPs. The novelty and complexity of the EU Profiler is evident since it is available for all Member States of the European Union in their respective languages. There is also a simulation for a number of non-EU countries like Turkey, Croatia, Switzerland and Norway.
Here is how the tool works:
- By answering a simple questionnaire (30 questions), users will obtain a presentation of their policy preferences which allows them to compare those with the positions of all national, as well as European, parties. The EU Profiler provides multiple options for further analysis of the position of the user.
- The results are displayed in a party match (i.e. percentage of user preferences and positions matching those of parties), in a two-dimensional graph (‘compass’) as well as in a multidimensional spiderweb graph (‘smartspider’).
- The tool enables the user to analyse his or her political choices and to position him in the European political landscape.
The partners for this project are the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, which has cooperated with the Kieskompas in Amsterdam and the NCCR Democracy/Politools network in Zurich. Professor Alex Trechsel, a political scientist with the EUI, is leading the project. Alex (who I had the honour of meeting in various occasions), is one of the leading authorities in Europe in e-democracy theory and practice, an academic who regularly advises the Council of Europe, the Estonian government on its e-voting efforts etc.
The selection of the political issues and statements, as well as the positioning of the parties in the EU Profiler is done according to strict academic standards by a group of leading academics. There is also a dedicated country team which in the case of Greece is the following: Angelos-Stylianos Chryssogelos (team leader), Ilias Ntinas, Sofia Tzortzi and Sofia Vasilopoulou.
Good luck then to the EU Profiler!
In this day and age where political parties frequently blur their policies to attract voters and real differences are hard to detect, the average citizen is more and more confused on his real choices. Tools like these -if done correctly – can greatly help towards better informed publics.
[Other background info links on the EU Parliament elections: See this interactive map of the EU countries , and the EU Parliament site for information on the elections]