It is a Voting Advice Application (VAA) – an impartial tool designed to inform potential voters and other interested users about the political landscape in Europe ahead of the European Parliament elections in June 2009. Amongst others, it provides answers to the following questions: Which parties are running? Where do they stand on the important issues? Where do I stand in relation to the parties? All of these questions and more are answered in the few minutes it takes to fill out a questionnaire.
How does it work?
You respond to a survey on many of the relevant political issues of the day. The positions you take are compared to those of the political parties in your country and, optionally, the rest of Europe. This comparison gives you an idea of where you stand on the political landscape and who best supports your views and represents your political profile. The tool also provides extracts from actual party documents, such as election manifestos, to back up each position recorded for the parties.
Is it independent?
The EU Profiler is an academic project, unaffiliated with any party, candidate, government or branch of the EU. It has been entirely funded by the three consortium institutions - the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RCAS), part of the European University Institute (EUI); Kieskompas and the NCCR Democracy (University of Zurich/Zentrum für Demokratie Aarau)/Politools network. The tool was designed in such a way as to allow complete impartiality. Information was gathered by respected experts in European politics and at no point were political parties in a position to influence the composition of either the tool itself or the information provided by it.
What do the results mean?
The results are displayed in various ways, explaining the political positions of both you and the political parties.
The Compass places you on a 2-dimensional map along 2 axes: Socioeconomic Left- Socioeconomic Right and Pro EU Integration - Anti EU Integration. To be on the ‘left’ of the socioeconomic scale broadly means that you favour a strong, well-funded state that provides extensive programmes and welfare that are paid for by tax revenue. To be on the ‘right’ means that you favour a reduced role for the state in everyday life, resulting in lower taxes. The be pro EU Integration means that you see the benefit of a politically and economically closer European Union, giving more power to the EU. To be anti EU Integration means that you see greater value in preserving strong state sovereignty and less power for the EU.
The Smartspider displays your results in a format that gives a complete overview of the positions you have taken. The points of the spider are the different policy fields and your ‘shape’ is a simple visual representation of your political profile which can easily be held next to those of the political parties, showing in which areas you match up.
The Matchlist gives you a simple percentage score to describe how close you are to the parties listed for your, or another country. The percentage is calculated from your aggregate responses.
It should be noted that the results given by the EU Profiler are merely a guide to the electoral scene. There is, of course, no obligation at all to act on them.
Can I edit my responses?
Yes. By clicking the navigation at the top of the web page you can return to any stage of the profiler. You can edit your responses and the weighting you gave to the issues.
Who is responsible for this tool?
Responsibility for the EU Profiler lies with the consortium institutions that both funded and developed it.
What will happen to my responses?
The EU Profiler responses are entirely anonymous. Your responses are only used for scientific research and academic analyses. In no way, your personal details will be used or published.
Which parties are included?
Technical constraints do limit the number of parties included. While it is preferable for a tool such as this to be as inclusive as possible, we are confident that every significant party is featured in the EU Profiler. This means parties that are currently holding seats in the EP and who are polling to win seat this time around. The level of exclusion was very low, but higher in countries with a large number of single-issue or ‘protest’ parties.
Are the propositions authorized by the candidates or parties?
No. Parties have, in the past, exerted undue influence on VAAs such as this – either de-emphasising awkward issues or concentrating on areas that seem to favour their manifesto. The EU Profiler adopted a totally impartial method for formulating the propositions, or statements, that make up the survey. It was based on extensive consultation with a range of experts, from academics to journalists, and exhaustive research of opinion polls, party materials and other sources.
The parties included in the EU Profiler were consulted throughout their positioning and the research on their policies. They were given the opportunity to ‘self-place’, meaning put forward their responses to the initial survey, and provide documentation for their positions. However, the EU Profiler team could always overrule a party self-placement.
Why is my position given as being close to one party in the compass, but a different party in the match list?
If you are close to a party in the political landscape, this means that on average you are as left/right or pro EU integration/anti EU integration as this party. Yet, this is merely an average. It is possible that your response to one issue is more pro EU integration than the response of a party, while on other issues you were more anti EU integration. On average, then you could end up on roughly the same position, while you have different opinions on the specific issues. Thus, you can be very close to a party, while still having substantial disagreement on specific issues. While often you will find that you agree on most issues with parties that are closest to you, it is nevertheless recommendable that you analyse your agreement on the various issues by de-selecting themes you think are less or not at all important to you. Simply click on Issues and analyse your position. Also the list of how important the different topics are to you is included include in the calculation, with a possibility to exclude the list from your final position (button: exclude importance).
Moreover, because your position is projected in a two-dimensional graph, it is very well possible that you agree to a large extent with one party on the left-right axis, while you do not agree with that same party on the pro-european/anti-european axis. You have to keep in mind that the party the closest to your position in the political landscape does not necessarily on every topic have the same opinions as you have. This party is just on average the closest to your position on the two dimensions. You can obtain a clearer view of where you stand in comparison with the different party’s if you eliminate some issues by using the menu in the right column.
What do the party colours in the compass and the spider refer to?
- Dark blue: affiliated with the centre-right EPP-ED
- Light red (pink): affiliated with the centre-left PES
- Yellow: affiliated with the liberal ALDE
- Light blue: affiliated with the centre national-conservative UEN
- Dark green: affiliated with the Greens-EFA
- Dark red: affiliated with the far-left GUE-NGL
- Black: affiliated with the eurosceptic Independence / Democracy Group
- Grey: all other parties
Does the question 'How probable is it that you will ever vote for the following parties?' influence my result?