Quick Look

Koho Volit provides Czech and Slovakian voters with a short quiz to match their own voting preferences with those of candidates.

Beginning Date: 
January 1, 2007
Annual Budget 2007: 
Annual Budget 2008: 
Annual Budget 2009: 
Annual Budget 2010: 
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 
Types of Tools: 
Czech Republic


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.


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Date of Audio: 
March 28, 2010


What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

Not enough promotion. Not enough content. Little interest in hard data by the public. Lack of money.

How do you plan on overcoming those obstacles?: 

Work and think hard. Providing more important information in clearer and more interesting way.

What problem is your project aiming to overcome?: 

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.

What are the roots of that problem?: 

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.

Why did you personally become involved in this project?: 

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.

Are you providing unofficial channels of information that should be provided by the government?: 

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.

Why is the government not providing the information?: 

There is an old saying here: “He who does nothing, doesn't screw anything up. And whoever does not screw anything up is promoted.”

Is there a freedom of information law in the country where this project is based?: 
How does the information published on your website turn into offline change?: 

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.

What is an example of how information on your website has led to a concrete change?: 

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.

How many people work on your project?: 
How many hours a week do you personally spend on the project?: 

Around 70, depending on the week.

How many hours does the whole team spend on the project?: 

Around 100, depending on the week.

What are the most time consuming tasks?: 

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.

How do you extract value from large amounts of data? How do you build engagement around it?: 

We “scrape” them from parliamentary websites regularly. We process them and provide them in rather simple way, understandable by people.

How do you verify the identities of participants on your website?: 

We do not. It is not really necessary in our case.

How do you attract new participants?: 

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.

What has been the most effective method of spreading awareness about your project?: 

Word of mouth - people recommending it to the others. Also, a cooperation with the media.

What are your biggest referrers? Where does most of your traffic come from?: 

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

Where is your content re-posted? What effect has that had on your project?: 

Newspapers (both online and paper ones). We see it as a different channel to distribute the information we want to provide to people.

Has legal action been taken against your website?: 

No. Fortunately. (We do not have the resources.)

What metrics do you use to judge your own success?: 

Google page rank. Number of users, number of subscribers, pieces of information served (in API), information in medias.

What are the incentives to participate in your project?: 

To go beyond the media coverage of politics and promises of the politicians. Curiosity about own preferences, how they match with political parties.

What skills and expertise would be of assistance to your project?: 

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.

How do you plan on financially sustaining your project? : 

Fundraising from users. Grants with the exception of governmental ones. Support by authors (the main source so far).

What other organizations are you working with?: 

NasiPolitici.cz, zelenykruh.cz, MySociety.org and the circle around them. Many IT communities.

Have you thought about developing your own tools?: 

We are doing it.

Has there been any communication between your project and government officials?: 

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.

Are there any legal obstacles to your work? Any laws that should be changed?: 

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.

Have there been any attempts to replicate your work elsewhere?: 

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).

What other projects in your region should we know about?: 
If someone gave you $30,000 how would you use the money?: 

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.)

What are your plans for 2010 and 2011?: 

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.

Further Questions

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.


It's interesting to see such

It's interesting to see such an initiative originated from two people who are able to present data in meaningful way understanding the challenges of current governance system as well as public response to lack of accountability. This example shows that with good technical skills and currently available on-line tools one can build a case study for transparency in the region.
I personally think it's a great start of a project which can grow into campaign supported by more people from the region, as well as local and international organizations like Transparency International.
This perfect example of grassroots movement should be taken to the next level with support of similar projects and organizations from the area, as it already has impressive curriculum of results. If two people can build such a system, I cannot even imagine the results of this project after significant financial support and ability to add more resources.
It's very inspirational too.

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