How many times do we engage with disillusioned voters that, conversely, claim that politicians – and therefore electoral programmes – are ‘all the same’? Or, more generally, how often do we have the feeling that votes are given to the face that convinces us the most, rather than to the electoral party that better matches our political preferences?
Voting Advice Applications (so-called VAAs), can help overcome these issues. Called also ‘political compass’, ‘electoral navigator’ or ‘party-meter’, they are online tools that help users make a choice in a given election.
In the run-up to the Italian elections on 25 September the EUI has released a VAA, called ‘Political Navigator’. The project is led by the European Governance and Politics Programme in collaboration with the University of Pisa for the scientific part, and Quotidiano Nazionale for outreach and dissemination.
The Political Navigator invites users to react to 30 statements covering a wide range of current political and value issues in the Italian electoral campaign, clustered by six dimensions: economy; culture; EU integration; environment; foreign policy, and Constitution. With the help of two visual tools, the results not only show which parties are closest to citizens' preferences in percentage scores, but also where the user and parties are placed in the Italian political landscape. Results show the user his position first in terms of the ‘left-right’ and ‘conservative-progressive’ political dimensions and then according to selected issues such as EU integration and sustainability.
How does the navigator work? Based on their political election platforms, parties, or candidates, have been placed vis-à-vis a number of political, policy, or value-based arguments by a group of researchers. Examples of such statements are: ‘the State should provide stronger financial support to unemployed workers’ or ‘The legalisation of same sex marriages is a good thing’. Then, after filling out the survey, an algorithm matches the users’ answers to the same statements with the parties’ positions. Scientific literature has shown that participating in the matching exercise of a VAA tends to increase political participation, knowledge and ultimately voter turnout.
The 2022 Political Navigator is part of a larger and long-standing academic project on European elections. Under the name of euandi, the online tool developed for the 2019 European Parliament elections reached a record number of 1.28 million users. This was the third time an European-wide VAA was implemented, after 2014 and 2009 – the very first transnational attempts in the history of VAAs, in which the late Peter Mair was one of the initiators. With the aim of extending the scope of the project, euandi has been replicated for a number of relevant national elections in Europe: the 2021 German federal elections, the 2022 French presidential elections and now the Italian elections.
In addition to offering a useful tool to voters (and parties), the Political Navigator 2022 produces scientific data of great relevance for researchers and practitioners interested in political parties and elections, which are regularly made available to the academic community. In particular, the longitudinal dataset “EU Profiler/euandi trend file (2009–2019)“ includes the positions of 411 parties from 28 European countries and contains more than 20,000 unique party positions.
Link to the Political Navigator.