Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) are online tools designed to provide voters with information about parties and candidates at the time of elections. A VAA user typically answers a battery of 30-50 questions which parties and candidates themselves responded to earlier, or which were coded by experts based on party documentation (manifestos, speeches, etc.) on those issues. An algorithm then calculates the shares of agreement between the user’s positions and those of all parties/candidates and the VAA delivers a ranking of the latter, from the closest to the most distant to the voter. From an early Dutch offline version in the 1980s to 2018, VAAs have been implemented in about 50 countries; they are now in use in North and Latin America, Asia and Oceania, but have especially become a welcome recurrent tool for European voters in national, but also supranational and subnational elections. Generally set up by civic education bodies or media outlets, VAAs are also often elaborated with the help of political scientists. This has led to scholarly debates on how to improve the information delivered to voters as well as on their potential effects on electoral behavior. A third line of activity, using the data generated by those VAAs for political science research purposes, understandably took some more time to emerge. This seminar will introduce participants to the potential of those online tools for the collection and analysis of novel data on voters, parties, candidates and their interrelations.
About the presenter:
Patrick Dumont is a Professor of political science at the Australian National University. Professor Dumont’s main research interests are coalition theory, executive-legislative relations, parties and party systems, political elites for which he has published in journals such as the European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, Journal of European Public Policy, Public Choice and won the Vincent Wright award for best article in 2007 in West European Politics. His latest (co-edited) books are The Selection and Deselection of Ministers Around the World and European Integration and Consensus Politics in the Low Countries in 2015. He is also co-editor of Routledge Research on Social and Political Elites. His other topics of interest include the development of online Voting Advice Applications and related issues of political representation. Before coming to the ANU Patrick Dumont held positions at the Université catholique de Louvain and University of Luxembourg.