Koho Volit provides Czech and Slovakian voters with a short quiz to match their own voting preferences with those of candidates.
Posted by David Sasaki on Apr 24, 2010
Just over twenty years ago and the Czech Republic and Slovakia were a single country - Czechoslovakia - and its residents didn’t expect to have much of a say in how politicians ran their country. When the two countries transitioned to democracy there was a lot of excitement about getting information from parliament out to the public, but soon it became more difficult to access and harder to understand on the parliamentary websites in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. KohoVolit aims to take that information, organize it more clearly, and present it in a way that informs rather than overwhelms readers.
The website has also developed a quiz so that prospective voters can compare how they would vote on key issues and which politicians most closely aligned with those decisions. Now KohoVolit asks political parties key questions about their future plans and then takes that information to create a quiz for voters to see which party most represents their own views.
Not enough promotion. Not enough content. Little interest in hard data by the public. Lack of money.
Work and think hard. Providing more important information in clearer and more interesting way.
There is a huge gap between things politicians really do and what people think they do (as shown to them by the media, for example). People usually do not know who really represents them.
There are a few of them. There is a big mistrust towards the politicians, so the people are not very interested in the politics. Also, the media are generally quite shallow and do not provide people with the important information. They are often very partisan as well.
I was interested in the question, How do MPs really vote in Parliament? Which MP's vote in agreement? And who is voting in the way I would if I were in Parliament?
And I wanted other people to get the same information. That was the beginning.
Definitely. The information we provide should be really provided either by the government or by the media. We try to present existing information in an easier, more accessible way.
There is an old saying here: “He who does nothing, doesn't screw anything up. And whoever does not screw anything up is promoted.”
Some people start to question their party preferences. They say, “I always voted for party X. How can it be that they actually behave differently than I had always thought?” Others confirm their choice.
My mother took the voting advice test on our website and it changed her vote before EU parliamentary elections. There were about 60,000-70,000 people taking the test. As the results of elections are very often tight, even a few percentage points difference may make a difference. MPs started to be more careful about their attendance records in Parliament since we started to publish MPs' activity summaries on the website.
Around 70, depending on the week.
Around 100, depending on the week.
Extracting the data from other websites and presenting it in a way that is accessible to our users (it is a huge amount of data). Also, working on the technical parts of the site and, last but not least, promoting the project.
We “scrape” them from parliamentary websites regularly. We process them and provide them in rather simple way, understandable by people.
We do not. It is not really necessary in our case.
Big challenge. We aim to provide more interesting information. We make promotions. An important way is through mainstream media; by giving them regular reports on parliamentary activities, for example. Our voting advice applications are very important, as they are attractive. We prepare them for a news portal, for other NGOs, for Facebook, as part of our website, and even for a print newspaper.
Word of mouth - people recommending it to the others. Also, a cooperation with the media.
Direct access (including online newspapers, they do not publish links usually in the Czech Rep., but our NGO name is the same as the internet address. so it is easy to find), Google, Seznam.cz, Nasipolitici.cz
Newspapers (both online and paper ones). We see it as a different channel to distribute the information we want to provide to people.
No. Fortunately. (We do not have the resources.)
Google page rank. Number of users, number of subscribers, pieces of information served (in API), information in medias.
To go beyond the media coverage of politics and promises of the politicians. Curiosity about own preferences, how they match with political parties.
PR specialist. Fundraiser. Probably a graphic designer. Anybody willing to do unpopular tasks like copying all postal codes into our database. Anybody willing to help otherwise.
Fundraising from users. Grants with the exception of governmental ones. Support by authors (the main source so far).
NasiPolitici.cz, zelenykruh.cz, MySociety.org and the circle around them. Many IT communities.
We are doing it.
No, not so far. We plan to do it, but it is time consuming task and we have not have the time/money to do it.
Yes, but not many. The law protecting personal information applied to politicians prevents publishing summaries of certain information. It has been successfully challenged by a newspaper in a particular case, however a trial could be fatal for us as we do not have the financial strength as the newspaper has.
We actively try to look for partners interested in our work to replicate it (and to implement their interesting ideas at our site), however without a lot of success. A small piece of the work is going to be probably replicated in Chile by Vota Inteligente. We hope to find more partners on local scale in our countries this year (as there are the local elections during autumn).
It would allow us to provide solid information on other important issues in our countries – the public money lost due corruption, courts and their decisions not just, local authorities not being under public control. We could also do conduct deeper analyses of all the data (I am a data mining specialist, however do not have the opportunity to use the knowledge in the project as there is so much basic things to do and nobody else to do it.)
2010 is a super election year in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are general elections in both countries in late spring: the Czech Senate elections and both local elections in Autumn. It is during election time when people are most interested in politics and we are eager to provide them with information so they can cast their vote for the parties and candidates which are going to represent them in the best way possible. It has been a busy year for us. 2011 depends on our level of success during 2010 and the money we raise. We have many ideas, some of which have already been implemented in other places (the US, the UK, etc.) while others are unique to our countries.
The tools that you have developed for the website - are they available for download somewhere? And have you released them under a certain license?
They are available on request at the very moment (and it has happened). They should be available soon through SourceForge. The information we provide is released under CC-BY licence.