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European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

Valijakompass: voting advice application for the Estonian 2023 general election

General elections are coming up in Estonia on 5 March and the EUI has chipped in to help Estonian voters make an informed decision. A new voting advice application (VAA) 'Valijakompass' was launched on 14 February in co-operation with the University of Tartu and Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).

23 February 2023

Mobile device displaying the voting advice application for the Estonian 2023 general electio

Valijakompass helps voters by matching their views with the positions of the eight largest political parties in Estonia. Users are asked to take a stance on 35 political statements chosen by the Valijakompass team with an aim to cover the relevant themes in Estonian politics as broadly as possible (e.g. 'Reducing the gender pay gap in Estonia requires strong state intervention'). The statements pertain to the two central dimensions in European party systems – the economic left-right and the socio-cultural liberal-conservative – but also to six more specific issue blocs: European Union, environment, democracy, ethnic minority integration, regional development and the Ukraine war. After completing the survey, users can view their overall matches with the eight parties across the 35 statements.

Political parties aligned themselves to the 35 statements in close co-operation with the Valijakompass coding team. Parties provided self-placements to the statements and were cross-checked by developers. Positions were finalised after a calibration phase that involved deliberating with the party representatives.

The 2023 Valijakompass is the fourth edition of the VAA that was originally created for the 2011 Estonian general election. The project this year is co-directed by Lorenzo Cicchi from the Robert Schuman Centre and EUI alumnus Andres Reiljan from the University of Tartu and it is the first time when Valijakompass is part of a larger euandi project. euandi is a pan-European VAA that has been launched by the EUI since 2009. Its most recent edition was in 2019 and attracted more than 1 million users from all over Europe. Since then, the scope of the project has been extended and euandi has been adapted to several national elections that have taken place after 2019: the 2021 German federal elections, the 2022 French presidential elections, the 2022 Italian parliamentary elections and now the 2023 Estonian parliamentary elections. These national VAA projects serve as important stepping-stones on the way to the next pan-European edition of euandi in 2024.

In addition to being useful and engaging for voters and parties, the project will result in rich party position and user datasets, which, in turn, will be of great relevance for researchers and practitioners, thus contributing to the broader aims of the euandi project.

Valijakompass - available in Estonian, Russian and, for the first time ever, in English - has been highly popular among Estonian voters, gathering over 50,000 users (in a country of just 1.3 million people) in the first five days since its official launch. It has also received a multitude of positive media attention, being dubbed as the best VAA for 2023 Estonian elections by several TV and radio programmes. Project co-director Andres Reiljan introduced Valijakompass on the Estonian National Television (ETV) news (see starting from 17.07) and morning programme, ERR radio news and on ERR website.

Last update: 27 February 2023

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