Wahl-O-Mat

A software app available online since 2002 (and offline since 2004) from the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, BPB) to help people understand and select from among the multiple political parties’ platforms. Voters answer ca. 30 questions about their political views and are then shown which party platforms most closely match their thoughts and feelings. Based on “StemWijzer” software from the Netherlands that was modified by Politikfabrik, the Wahl-O-Mat software was used 9 million times between 2002 and 2009, for the federal Bundestag parliamentary/chancellor elections, some but not all state elections and recently the European parliamentary elections. Users can search the archive for historical versions of the Wahl-O-Mat software, to see how it changed as the parties’ positions changed over time. Apparently there’s a similar app available for USA elections at www.isidewith.com.

When answering Wahl-O-Mat questions, you can choose “Agree,” “Neutral” or “Disagree,” or skip the question without responding. You can choose to have some questions be counted twice, indicating their topics are more important to you. At the end of the survey, you must select up to eight political parties that will be evaluated for you. No more than eight parties will be evaluated. This and other issues have generated healthy debate about the app over the years.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (BPB) is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year; it was founded to support West Germany’s new democratic government after the Nazi era and appears to be a good political resource for school students.

(VALL oh matt.)

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