13/05/2014

QUB Researchers Develop EU Voting App

7Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have come up with a user-friendly 'app' for mobile phones and tablets to help members of the public decide who to vote for in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The EU Vox14 app asks a range of questions, including some Northern Ireland-specific, in relation to policy statements in order to identify which prospective MEP most closely matches a voter’s values.

The Northern Ireland Voting Advice Application (VAA) was developed by researchers at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen's, led by Dr John Garry, as part of a larger EU-wide project known as EUVOX.

Examples of questions asked by the app include a views on gay marriage, who should fund the health service and whether the UK should adopt the Euro. Questions relating to parades, flags, a united Ireland and political violence are also included.

Dr John Garry,said: "In Northern Ireland many believe that elections are just sectarian headcounts and that it would take a real political anorak to know what any of the main parties have to say on European policies. We assembled such a team of anoraks to objectively position the parties, on the basis of published policy statements and manifestos, and we provide a user-friendly way for citizens to compare themselves to parties on the kind of EU, economic, social and political matters that are important across the UK and many EU countries."

Dr Garry explained: "This is just like being lost in London and wondering where the closest tube station is. The parties are the stations and each voter has a 'you are here' position on the political map. It’s clear which parties are close by and which are very far away."

The European Parliament elections take place on May 22 in parallel with local government elections. Northern Ireland will return three MEPs out of ten potential candidates.

(IT/MH)

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