The award-winning EU Profiler voting advice application (VAA) for the European Parliament elections of June 2009 was the first Europe-wide tool of its kind.
The research project was led by the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) and was developed under the auspices of EUDO, in a consortium with the Amsterdam-based company Kieskompas and the NCCR Democracy (University of Zurich/Zentrum für Demokratie Aarau)/Politools network. More than 120 academic collaborators contributed to the project and currently the huge amount of data that was generated by coding the parties and by the users filling in the questionnaire has being analysed by the research team. When the EU Profiler tool was online six weeks before the elections, it attracted more than 2.5 million users.
For details about the EU Profiler and how it works, check out Help or the Frequently Asked Questions sections of the Profiler.
Aims of tool and research project
The EU Profiler and its follow-up work had two aims: first of all, during the election campaign and before the elections took place, it was a mean for voters to gain an unobstructed view of the European political landscape and their place within it. Voters, who wanted to gain an overview on the parties’ positions on a number of salient political issues, could inform themselves by positioning themselves on 30 statements of a simple questionnaire. This allowed them to compare their stances to these of the parties and to grasp not only the offer of their national, but as well of the European parties. With easy to understand analyses and visualisations, the user got the opportunity to gain knowledge about what it is stake in the elections and which parties are closest to his or her preferences.
Apart from the aim to offer a tool that allows voters to inform themselves on the elections and the European political landscape, the EU Profiler team had a strong academic interest in gaining research data related to the European elections. First of all, with the coding of almost 300 European parties, the team obtained an immense database on the positions of European parties on current political issues. Furthermore, the opinions of the users complemented a dataset, which has not been seen before in such a way. Overall, the EU Profiler provided academics with a huge amount of innovative data to conduct research on the European electorate and the European political landscape. At the moment, various research efforts based on the data gained are under way.