Dutch Voters Turn to the Internets

22 Nov

If you thought voting was hard here, try voting in Netherlands where voters have to chose between 24 different parties.  Dutch voters seem to be understandably  confused and a large number are turning to the Internet and sites that match voter and party:

At one site, called Vote Matcher, users answer multiple-choice questions. Based on the results, the site then suggests which party best represents the user's views. Another site, Voting Compass, offers a variant: after offering choices on a range of political topics, it shows where the user fits in the political landscape.

Each of the sites, which opened a month ago, has reported almost three million visitors, a significant number in a country with 12 million eligible voters. Those figures do not count the results from 13 other similar sites.

The sudden popularity of the voting guides in this democratic nation of outspoken citizens not known as wallflowers in politics, has baffled even seasoned analysts. Could this be just another set of computer games, or is this serious soul-searching?

"I think it's both," said Andre Krouwel, a professor of political science at the Free University in Amsterdam, who designed the Voting Compass site. "We are taken aback by the large numbers. It seems that people seem unsure, that they are trying to get a handle on a panorama that has become more complex with the boom in new small parties."

National opinion polls appear to confirm the wavering of many voters.

In the latest polls, released Monday, almost one-third of the people questioned said they had not decided whom to vote for.

The big question in my mind is: Do these sites work?  This is scarily related to my dissertation which included an entire chapter on the accuracy of Dutch voters' vote choice.  They did pretty good, scoring much higher than British or American voters.

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