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Web-Based Assistant Changes the Face of Dutch Politics

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the can-we-get-that-in-the-states-please dept.

190

An anonymous reader writes "The elections held in The Netherlands on Wednesday have shaken the country. Almost 10 million votes were cast, and statistics show that a full half of those who voted used a popular web-based voter guide. This guide is operated by the independent institute for the public and politics. Advice is given to the visitor upon answering a number of multiple choice questions on some common political topics. Statistically, a number of people ended up scoring in support of populist parties both on the far left and far right. No bias was reported to exist in the test itself. However, these parties have ended up with an unforeseen amount of power as a result of the election. The voter participation was high, and the web-based advisories may have motivated people with little interest in politics to cast a vote anyway. Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test?"

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Happy Thanksgiving! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16967842)

you flaming retards!

Re:Happy Thanksgiving! (1)

AssCork (769414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967912)

Hoo Hooo Hee Heee - what am I thankful for?
Not being American.

That's EL tard to you... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16967918)

That's EL tard to you...

Re:That's EL tard to you... (1)

Dog Chapman (942321) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967954)

which is Spanish for THE Tard!
Fear Me!

I took the test (1)

Lewrker (749844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967932)

and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.
Seriously, the way it works is just pure propaganda. It reduces choices to black or white.

Re:I took the test (2, Informative)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968016)

Seriously, the way it works is just pure propaganda. It reduces choices to black or white.

umm, that isn't anything like what propaganda is.

From m-w.com:
1 capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
2 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
3 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect


How does "It reduces choices to black or white" satisfy any of those definitions?

Re:I took the test (1)

Lewrker (749844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968116)

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda [wikipedia.org] one of the methods of propaganda is the so called "black-and-white fallacy" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-and-white_falla cy [wikipedia.org] .
But actually, when you mentioned it, I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_oversimplifica tion [wikipedia.org] suits this test much better.

Re:I took the test (1)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968384)

It's propaganda for more responsible democracy, that's what it is!

Interesting (0)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967952)

Thats... such an intersting idea im afraid theres no possible way it would work in the states.

Im curious as to the actual merit of this idea - what about different IP addresses, email addresses, etc.

-Red

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

diamondmagic (877411) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968022)

In simple terms:
You are not voting online... The program is recommending you a party to choose when you do go and vote.
We are also dicussing the option of making the actual ballot like this as well, with the ability to recommend a party.

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968060)

it's not an online voting system, it's a recommendation system. There's no reason at all why something similar couldn't be used in the USA.
IP Addresses have nothing to do with it.

Re:Interesting (1)

Alcari (1017246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968408)

There is actually a way to vote online. I just noticed on the news that 19000 (out of 15M) voted online, not that I knew that was even an option.... But there IS a reason such a system can't be used in the US, several infact. 1 - There's barely any difference between the two parties.
2 - The majority doesn't even vote on issues but on people
3 - [insert terrorists here]
4 - [Insert evil voting manipulation here]

Re:Interesting (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968144)

Thats... such an intersting idea im afraid theres no possible way it would work in the states.

Im curious as to the actual merit of this idea - what about different IP addresses, email addresses, etc.

-Red

I guess you haven't read TFA.
This voter guide is not about actually casting the vote itself. It's about suggesting a candidate do the voter according to his/her answers to a political opinion test. It looks like a good idea, but its code must be open for auditing, to avoid random bias for one candidate or another.

Re:Interesting (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968270)

It is written in javascript, and is running locally in your browser. Go ahead and audit it.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

cloricus (691063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968274)

I'll take a break from my usual privacy based point of view on topics like this and say I'm all for this idea. My city voted on a very important deal (in relation to water) recently and went for the popularity contest option instead of the informed opinion and now we are screwed - no water plans when we run out in 08 and plenty of towns queuing up to steal what water we do have left. So I'm all for letting people have a place where they can go and put in their views and be given a party to support...In a day and age where people don't remember what parties stand for and then don't hold them accountable when they move to the left or right of that I think we should be getting people back into the swing of voting for what they believe instead of who they believe in (single person popularity contests etc). Note this would only be for advise and I don't believe it should replace going down to a polling booth to cast.

stomwijzer (1)

Fruit (31966) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967960)

The stomwijzer [stomwijzer.nl] (stupidguide instead of voteguide) is a nice parody.

Re:stomwijzer (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968148)

Somehow not many people took their advice, which is always D66. D66 went from 6 to 3 seat in parliament. But nice of them to characterise potential D66 voters as stupid ;)

Re:stomwijzer (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968934)

From the site:

Alles voor mij.


Classic!

Too many choices (3, Funny)

200_success (623160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967962)

In the U.S., it's much simpler. Just vote for the lesser of two evils. Not that they'll count your vote properly, anyway.

Re:Too many choices (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968616)

Cthulhu 2008. Why vote for the lesser evil?

Not enough choices (1)

intnsred (199771) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968766)

Exactly. We're not satisfied with "only" 57 varieties of hamburger condiments, but for political parties we're supposed to be satisfied with laws which wildly tilt the playing field forcing us to choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

And they call that "freedom"... :-/

more info (5, Informative)

Ubi_NL (313657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967964)

It should be noted that this voting aid is endorsed by all major political parties who actually submit questions to it. The party leaders are also the first to take the test (this time the liberal leader actually did not end up with his own party at all after doing it...bummer :(

In the end you can compare your answer to the one of each political party. There they argue why they give this answer, making it a rather nice tool to learn more about the programs without reading the entire manuscripts, but it is definitely more then just the 30 questions.

Another interesting thing is that there is no large correlation between the suggested votes and those actually casted, indicating that people do not follow the advise blindly. In reality, many people here try a number of these web-based aids (kieskompas.nl is another one).

Too easy to create bias (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968112)

Well... then what about the two following questions:
  • Should the government aid farmers, letting them survive the flood of imported goods?
  • Would you want to pay extra taxes to grant benefits to the most incompetent of farmers?
It's all about who gets to edit the questions...

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

elhedran (768858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968406)

I seem to remember a three month conference once in politics just to agree what what question to ask the people, although I'll admit I can't remember details. The best way to get around the phrasing of the question problem would be simply to let the user see how each party would phrase the question.

However even without that safeguard I found it interesting, if only as a tool for seeing what points you agree or disagree with each party. Something like this in Australia would be good at election time.

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

elhedran (768858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968428)

Just noticed, a topic on Dutch politics, I'm replying as an Australian, and Slashdot is using a graphic of the American flag in its title for this topic. Of course given then 'flag wrapped' nature of campaigning I can't say I'm surprised.

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

jfedor (27894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968432)

Ask both. Include an answer that says "I won't answer this question, because it is phrased incorrectly.". Compare your answers with the answers of the politicians. Vote for the one who agrees with you on most questions (add weighs if you like), treating the "no answer" answer like any other.

-jfedor

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

cloricus (691063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968452)

You will never get rid of bias though...Even my own personal bias over rode your second question there easily; I've been on the land and I know flooding - while it does get those who are to stupid to build proper flood protection and damming - destroys much more than just one farmer as the cascading effect gets every one in the area one way or the other. So in my opinion the best you can hope for is fair questions where you know the bias.
 
Personally I'd rather some one was horribly bias but made that bias known than a seemingly plain question when you don't know the bias.

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

diskis (221264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968568)

It's about comparing the users answers to a candidates answer.

Maybe a certain candidate answers yes to the first, and no to the second. And you answer the same.
That tells that you think like the candidate, and that he would be suitable.

It's not the content or phrasing of the questions, it is the intersection of answers that matter.

Easy.. (1)

a16 (783096) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968612)

How about you just ask "Should the government supply financial aid to farmers?"

Your examples attempt to provide advice in the question, which there is no reason for. Just simplify the question down to the core of what is being asked, and ensure that there is no bias. Presumably if these questions are checked by the political parties beforehand, they would have a period to complain about any bias that slips through.

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968756)

I would agree if the site was sponsored by a political party or has its own agenda for pushing in one direction or another. It is likely, though, that such sites live and exist because all parties can support their way of asking. Since the parties asked usually have very divergent views on the matters presented, a party would certainly cause an uproar if their agenda was handled in a negatively biased way, they would at the very least boycott the site and inform their voters about it.

If anything, this could well cause that party to gain votes from protest voters. And protest voters are almost a majority these days, voting for party B for the only reason that they don't like party A. The "lesser evil" voters.

You shouldn't get on their bad side as a party.

Re:Too easy to create bias (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968786)

"It's all about who gets to edit the questions..."

With all due respect, I didn't see these questions in the survey. Were you meaning to be rhetorical or make a pointed example?

I design testing and survey instruments for my employer, and there is a LARGE scientific basis behind all of it. You look for biases on your own. You bring in content experts from a sampling of the population. You run test surveys on a random sample representing the population that will be utilizing this. You run item analysis on all of these. Stats alone will find bias, even if you are a complete idiot. Generally, this information is freely available to representative groups (naturally, in the idea of testing, it is limited, but they work from the same idea).

To go over all the work that goes into something like this, you'd probably need to have several stats courses behind you, tests and measures courses, a few psychometric courses etc. It isn't something people get into lightly.

Its nice to be able to sum this stuff up with a few extremely biased questions that would never be approved by a bipartisan group and would really be more representative of a one-sided push poll (i.e., the bias is obvious, but you want to prime the poll-taker to take your side next time this subject comes up). And this is why any REAL survey group that was doing something like this would state their backers, those that have signed off, and the background. In the case of the question above, my group would ask for a short response from both sides and guide them towards language neutral wording (some words such as incompetent would be ruled out immediately without even assigning sides...luckily, I haven't had to work on public policy type debates, but knowing those that have, these groundrules are put forth early on and STILL argued and refined by the sides).

I wish it was all this simple, someone creates a bullshit poll and then we sit around collecting money and ignoring the guys that state that its all about who gets to edit the questions, but we don't.

I wish I could post un-anonymously, but part of my job is being politically neutral and even commenting on this sort of stuff publicly could ruin future work. Whats the phrase I'm always reminded of -- its not impropriety that folks have a problem with, its the appearance of impropriety. Or something like that.

Re:Too easy to create bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968896)

Especially

12 Everyone should be free to say what he wants, even if this discriminates against other people.
15 Christian and Muslim faith schools should have the right to refuse pupils.

Re:Too easy to create bias (1)

tez_h (263659) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968912)

Well, I know that personality profile type tests used, say, for job applications, contain questions whose answers characterise candidate consistency. While your post is trying to demonstrate bias, which will be impossible to get rid of, it also demonstrates that with a little thought, extremes can be identified and perhaps tested for (in terms of consistency) to identify the test-taker's ability to discern bias.

-Tez

Re:more info (1)

picob (1025968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968260)

this time the liberal leader actually did not end up with his own party at all after doing it...bummer :(
At least this shows they don't just forget their political program when elections are over. They don't know ithe program a priori.

So what? (5, Insightful)

jeroenb (125404) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967986)

Does anybody actually believe that before there were 10-minute web-based tests, everybody used to go out and read all the different parties' complete programs and base their decision on a comprehensive analysis of them all? Ofcourse not, people used to base it on soundbytes and whether someone appears to be trustworthy. So from that perspective, using a 10-minute test to base your choice on some actually relevant political issues is a great step forward.

I admid it (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968258)

Ok, you are totaly right: I never made the effort to read any of those propaganda fliers. I only got those for two parties so that was what my choices were limited to. The choice was not that hard: one had a bald man on front, the other a nice woman of my agegroup (the only downside of her is that she had her hair cut when she got kids...)
Actually, i could have voted for the first foreign sounding female on their list (AKA the 'troetelturk'[toyforeigner]) but these don't show pictures. So I am just happy i voted for a hot woman (that shared a lot of my political ideas, but I did not learn that from their propaganda)

BTW: the bald man party made huge victory, from 9 to ~26 seat (out of 150), so he didn't need my vote anyway. Too bad bald man and hot chick can't go make a gouvernment, maye with the help of harry potter(who lost some seats) and the ideal son in law (who lost more seats).

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968778)

Well, looking around me, there were two big group of voters before the advent of 10 minute tests: The traditional voter (who votes for 'his' party because he always did) and the buzzword voter (who votes for whatever party has the smartest slogan).

Now, if those two groups did actually take the test, it wouldn't be a step, it would be a leap ahead. Unfortunately, they don't. They still vote for the same parties or for the buzzwords.

Most vote the way their parents voted. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968918)

I think the recommender is a good idea, it wipes away the personality politics and tells you which parties have beliefs are closest to your own. You should probably go confirm any recommendation against the party manifesto.

However it really doesn't matter if your electoral system collapses any voting result to a two party state. Or if you can form a majority government with the support of just 36% of the population.

 

You can't even put out decent voting machines (0, Troll)

Mex (191941) | more than 7 years ago | (#16967996)

And you want to emulate the Netherlands? right.

Re:You can't even put out decent voting machines (1)

Alcari (1017246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968362)

several small cities had to vote the old fashioned way, as the machines couldn't be certified' due to the people delivering it banging up the seals.

Voting Compass (4, Informative)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968002)

I tried Stemwijzer, but the questions where too simple with only yes and no as possible answers.

I tried Kieskompas.nl and they had better questions, followup questions and at the end you could compare your "score" with that of the political parties that answered the same questions accompanied by extra explanations and motivations to give you a better idea about their standing on the subjects.
That was a better website to "quickly" get informed.

Re:Voting Compass (1)

Steemers (1031312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968198)

Apparently you did not pay enough attention to the Stemwijzer.nl site, which compared your vote to the political parties as well [what would be the use of it without this function] and also gave explanations from these parties. Yes, no and 'dont know' never suffice so you will never see a voting site with just those options.

Re:Voting Compass (1)

oever (233119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968244)

Yes, No, and Do not know

are insufficient. It should be:

    Yes, No, Do Not Know, and Do Not Care

Revealing what was always there? (3, Informative)

Myself (57572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968008)

If it opens people's eyes to parties outside the usual two, I'm in favor of it. Play with the OkCupid politics test [okcupid.com] if you haven't already. It's run by the same mathematicians who designed TheSpark way back when, and features the same scarily-insightful ratings engine.

Simplified (4, Insightful)

nyri (132206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968024)

Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test?

Surely if politics can be simplified into ten second soundbites and mud slinging ads repeated over and over again, it can be simplified to a ten minute test.

In fact ten minute test sound heck of a lot better than "tough on terrorism" and "tough on drugs" as a basis for a vote.

Re:Simplified (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968178)

10 minutes is an improvement upon the 1 minute people usually care about the subject for while they're voting, if at all.

Re:Simplified (1)

MdotCpDeltaT (744490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16969076)

For the United States, there is a an easy 20 question quiz that is called "The World's Smallest Political Quiz. http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html [self-gov.org] ". Two million people have taken the quiz and sometimes the results are quite shocking for the test taker.

nothing wrong with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968044)

Well of course the people needed _some_ sort of guide/test/assistance, there were over a billion different parties to choose from (well, only 20, but you get the idea)
A short test is less than ideal, but it's better than a blind vote. (although not voting would be better of course...)

Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968050)

Yes. In fact, I can cut it down to 30 seconds:

1. Are you with
    A. America
    B. the terrorists

If you marked 'A', please vote for everyone with the word 'Republican' under their name. If you marked 'B', please stay put while we pinpoint your exact location...

Re:Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968170)

That would be funny ... if this(only those 2 choices) wouldn't be the worldview of many republicans.

Re:Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968704)

About as good as the Democrat's test which would go something like

Are you
A. A Democrat
B. A Facist


The fact that you're both enough of a tool to be fooled by party politics and that you are probably able to vote frightens me.

Re:Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968850)

Politics is changing. Liberal democracy has not worked. People want solutions, and what we call "far right" and "far left" today are closer than you might think. There's only one clear answer -- environmentalist, conservationist, culture-enhancing National Socialism [nazi.org] . At least until the Chinese invade and global warming dooms us. Humanity made some bad decisions, and now our run is over. Maybe the amphibians will do better.

I'm voting for Fortuyn! (2, Informative)

0jjjjjjjjjj0 (1024211) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968068)

Well, apparently. After being asked the 30 questions, they suggest I vote for Fortuyn, which translates to what, exactly?

Here are the 30 topics, each of which you are asked to 'agree' with or 'disagree' with.

  • 1 Citizens should elect the prime minister.
  • 2 Child benefit should be increased.
  • 3 The more you earn the larger the contribution you should pay for health insurance.
  • 4 Working parents should pay for child care facilities.
  • 5 If you need home care you should contribute towards it.
  • 6 Young people under the age of 27 should no longer receive social security benefits.
  • 7 Everyone receives state old age pension from the age of 65. People who in the future receive state old-age pension and a pension of over 15,000 euro should themselves pay contributions towards this benefit.
  • 8 It should be easier for employers to terminate the employment of staff with a fixed contract.
  • 9 Cannabis and other soft drugs should be decriminalised.
  • 10 Tackling terrorism is more important than the personal freedom and privacy of the individual.
  • 11 Everyone over the age of 14 is required to be able to prove who is he or she is. The government should abolish this identification obligation.
  • 12 Everyone should be free to say what he wants, even if this discriminates against other people.
  • 13 A teacher at a school with many children who have learning difficulties should earn more than a teacher at an ordinary school.
  • 14 Junior general secondary schools (MAVO) no longer exist as a school in their own right but have become part of the preparatory secondary vocational education system (VMBO). The MAVO should be restored as a separate type of school.
  • 15 Christian and Muslim faith schools should have the right to refuse pupils.
  • 16 The government currently subsidises the public television channels Netherlands 1, 2 and 3. One of these channels should be axed.
  • 17 Euthanasia should be allowed.
  • 18 Everyone should make clear during their lifetime whether their organs may be donated to sick people after their death.
  • 19 Some people have a Dutch passport and a passport of another country. The government should abolish this dual nationality.
  • 20 Antilleans who commit crimes should be sent back to the Antilles and imprisoned there.
  • 21 A homeowner receives tax relief on mortgage interest. This scheme should be made less advantageous for people in the higher income groups who take out a new mortgage.
  • 22 Landlords of residential property should be able to decide for themselves how much rent they will ask.
  • 23 No new mosques may be built.
  • 24 Schiphol Airport should continue growing.
  • 25 More roads are needed to combat traffic congestion.
  • 26 The Netherlands should abandon nuclear energy in due course.
  • 27 The rights of animals should be safeguarded in the Constitution.
  • 28 Turkey should be able to join the European Union.
  • 29 The Netherlands should spend more money on defence.
  • 30 The Netherlands should no longer participate in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.

Re:I'm voting for Fortuyn! (1)

Meph0 (1024431) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968254)

That means, if you decided to vote for them, you're voting on the party whose leader got shot to death and left the Netherlands in shock. Oh, and you're also very very rightwing. I bet Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid) was second or third.

Re:I'm voting for Fortuyn! (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968642)

If he is American "voting" for the Wim Fortuyn list is actually quite "bleading hearth" left wing, after all he was for the liberalisation of drugs, and apparently equal rights for gay people.

Weird stuff indeed. (4, Interesting)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968084)

The same happened to me; As a dutch voter I also tried out the 'Stemwijzer', and encountered a very strange advice of what to vote for, namely the 'Partij voor de Dieren' ; or 'Party for Animals', a leftish party who is fighting for more animal rights, but has not too much opinions on stuff that -also- matters.
The strange thing though; Second on the advice was 'EénNL' ; Or One NL , a party who is very much leaning to the right.

Other friends of mine also got very strange advices (ranging from hardcore religious to far-right parties), and while we could see that the tool was clearly unbalanced (either by asking the wrong questions, or by having some weird measurement being used) and its results should be taken with a grain of salt, we were worried for others who would take this advice regardless.

The end-result, where both extreme-left as extreme right had a victory, might have had some of its origin in the advice dealt out by this site.

Then again, relying on twenty one-liners to determine a final vote is not really that good a thing in the first place.

Re:Weird stuff indeed. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968218)

At the end you can click on the name of the party and it will show you everything that you and the party agree on and everything you don't agree on. Maybe you just don't know yourself or your understanding of these parties is limited?

Re:Weird stuff indeed. (1)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968332)

I think I am more informed of the parties out there than the general dutch man and I did my research of what I wanted to vote for this time around, and -why-.
I used the Stemwijzer merely as to see if it would fit my final decision; Which it didn't.
Most of the questions (as opposed to other years) also seemed to have an unfair balance in how they were asked (think of the 'would you like to trade in more privacy for less terrorism'-question).

And yes, I looked after the results afterwards (and so did my friends); and found several odd stances of the different parties there: Odd as in, the parties' public appearances on those issues varied a lot more than the absolutes of the answers could match.

Re:Weird stuff indeed. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968508)

Well, yes, it does appear to lack some weighting for the party (you get to supply weighting for your answers though) so that could result in some skewed results.

Re:Weird stuff indeed. (1)

Repton (60818) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968882)

Your "leftist party first, right wing party second" result could be indicitive of the difficulties of compressing the variety of political standpoints into a single "left right" spectrum.

Have you seen the political compass [politicalcompass.org] ? It uses two dimensions instead of one to represent political positions. See here [politicalcompass.org] for an example of what it looks like.

I'm obviously speculating wildly here, because I don't know anything about either your politics or Dutch politics in general, but could it be that the two parties were, say, on different sides of the vertical axis, but at a similar height?

Re:Weird stuff indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968990)

The same happened to me; As a dutch voter I also tried out the 'Stemwijzer', and encountered a very strange advice of what to vote for, namely the 'Partij voor de Dieren' ; or 'Party for Animals', a leftish party who is fighting for more animal rights, but has not too much opinions on stuff that -also- matters. The strange thing though; Second on the advice was 'EénNL' ; Or One NL , a party who is very much leaning to the right.
Perhaps you shouldn't have responded "Yes!" with quite as much enthusiasm to the question: "Would you like to see animal-hating liberal socialist immigrants deported from the country?" :)

Freedom of choice (2, Informative)

asciimonster (305672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968094)

Well, this election in the Netherlands some people concerned with the abovementioned effect (viz. a newspaper and a university) have created http://www4.kieskompas.nl/ [kieskompas.nl] a competing site(unfortunately no english verions available) which wanted to provide a more graduated result. Hell, there was even http://www.partijwijzer.nl/ [partijwijzer.nl] a similar website(currently offline for obvious reasons, i.e. elections are over) aimed at younger (age < 30) voters.

As long as there are more than one what-should-I-vote websites and most people visit several, I don't see the problem.

Re:Freedom of choice, Political Compass in English (1)

husey (1000259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968590)

For the non Dutch speakers among us (and mine is somewhat rusty, I always found http://www.politicalcompass.org/ [politicalcompass.org] to come up with interesting results. Although it doesn't tell you who you could vote for, it's fun for kicking off political debates!

maybe (1)

idlake (850372) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968124)

Maybe voting on issues isn't a good way of voting in a democracy. But that's what we believe democracy is currently about and that's a good place to start from if we want to improve it.

A danger with voting guides, however, is that the question and terminology are vague. "Spending less on defense" can mean anything from a 1% reduction in the budget to getting rid of the military.

In any case, nobody is stopping people from using common sense together with these voting guides. If you find that your positions agree most with some disreputable party, you can use that as a starting point for re-evaluating your positions and for re-evaluating that party; you don't have to vote for them blindly.

Re:maybe (1)

Steemers (1031312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968238)

'A danger with voting guides, however, is that the question and terminology are vague. "Spending less on defense" can mean anything from a 1% reduction in the budget to getting rid of the military.' That is why the actual point taken by the political parties is explained in more detail. If you don't take the time for that extra mouseclick it is indeed too vague.

We need a military (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968500)

If only to weed out the gunnuts and other looniebin characters. Give 'em some toys to play with and some ways to retreat themselves from the genepool and it makes out society a bit nicer. Just make sure the headloony does not declare war on you.

What if... (1)

Zgonjko (947760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968150)

What if there had been bias on the test in favour of on or another far left, or worse, far right political party? It is surprising that there is so much trust and popularity in a simple web-based system in the first place. However one must doubt that anyone in their right mind would make an important political decision based on this alone. Say that hypothetically, the management of the system fell into the hands of a neo-nazi sympatizer? Would the Dutch (as...unorthodox shall we say, as they are) really have elected a greater proportion of Nazis to parliament?

Re:What if... (2, Interesting)

Alcari (1017246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968300)

What if there had been bias on the test in favour of on or another far left, or worse, far right political party? It is surprising that there is so much trust and popularity in a simple web-based system in the first place.
Then it's a good thing that every political party has to first agree to the questions. This isn't a matter of some guy in a dark room rolling a some bice and randomly picking questions. It take months of discussion to agree on these 30 questions.
However one must doubt that anyone in their right mind would make an important political decision based on this alone.
True, however, here in the sane world, we've got more then two real parties. With 20 parties to choose, would you seriously consider reading all their programs? or would you prefer if 'some web app' would show what is most likely to intrest you first?

Re:What if... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16969114)

What if there had been bias on the test in favour of on or another far left, or worse, far right political party?

Why is bias in favor of a far right party worse than a far left party?

17% extreme left (1)

picob (1025968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968162)

More interesting (and a bit scary) is that the SP, which started as a maoistic party in 1971, received 17% of the votes. They had 6% of the votes in 2003. Although they claim to be a a more socialistic at this time, it still is the farthest left in dutch politics.

Re:17% extreme left (1)

Alcari (1017246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968326)

This is quite normal, because of the natural tendency of people vote for whatever is most opposite the current government "Because they suck" even though they did a great job economically, social issues could use more focus. Economics are not what people see, social issues are, and they see them being 'neglected' thus vote for a social party.

Re:17% extreme left (1)

u2boy_nl (927513) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968460)

You are quite right: The SP started as a maoistic party in 1971.

However you fail to mention that the party has evolved quite a bit since then.

Sure it is still on the far left in dutch politics, and i don't agree with them (i'd never vote for them), they are not some maoistic communist party which should be feared.

Re:17% extreme left (1)

DjB_NL (1031314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968614)

...the farthest left in dutch politics
This post is relevant because...?
The Dutch political landscape is not one of extreme lefts, and only a few extreme rights. Most parties could be considered 'very close to the center'... So the 'farthest left' isn't saying much.

But more to the point: what does the outcome of the Dutch election have to do on /. ? The article (wrongly) states that a online tool changed the outcome of the elections. That was the topic of discussion. So, unless you can help to show the the SP won because of Stemwijzer, I really don't see your point...

lots of parties is good (1)

frietbsd (943773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968190)

I went and voted wednesday, but my interrest in politics make unnessesary to rely on a tool like this. How ever, i did fill it out and it had the good direction. In the netherlands, the biggest party got only 27% of the votes, the other partys are even smaller. I think the more partys the better, because more different viewpoints can be assessed. I cant see how in the states only two political partys can really represent so many different opinions. this election the house gained 2 new partys but only lost 1. We proove that different political partys can work together to form a good, more internally balanced, government. Looking for a 3 party solution, because biggest 2 together make only 48%

frosty pissed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968194)

Slashdot..

Politics for egotistical self-pompous gay nerds, your vote doesn't mean SHIT!

FECAL DEMON FOR DICTATOR!

First shades of something new? (4, Interesting)

26199 (577806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968204)

Living as we do in the information age, there's clearly a lot more that can be done with voting than we're doing at the moment.

For example, we could have 'continuous voting'. Everybody who is eligible to vote can log into a website at any time, on any day of the year, and change their standing vote. Every day the totals and trends are made public, and a sufficient shift in opinion changes who is in power. (With some buffering, obviously -- e.g. you need a majority of 60% for six months to cause a switch, but a majority of 80% will cause power to change hands in a month).

Instead of voting on parties, why not vote on issues? Then let the parties declare their positions on each issue, and match the one to the other.

I'm not saying these would work better than current systems, necessarily -- but think of the possibilities! Of course there's vast scope for broken systems that lead to bad things happening... but then, that's nothing new.

Re:First shades of something new? (2, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968574)

Ultimately this won't work due to voter indifference. Another problem with this approach is that risk-taking and unpopular but needed decisions will become nonexistent.

Voter involvement in the Internet Age (3, Insightful)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968224)

Can't we just vote for the policies directly, rather than vote for the people who will vote for the policies? The internet gives us the tool to become much more directly involved in the running of the country.

I'd rather answer 10 or 100 questions on my opinions and have them fed directly into the policymaking than have to choose between two major parties, one incompetent and the other dishonest.

Dutch politics not two party system (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968402)

You proposal (referenda for everything) would seriously hamper budgetting, as most people choose for more money for [insert favourite employee group here]. It would give responsibility to a lot of people without making them really responsible. If you have a minister that goes over budget, he has to come and explain in parliament. voters can't. They would not have all the information to make desicions anyway, and even if they had, you can't expect them to research it all for one vote only. That is what we pay politicians for. Not every choice is a simple and purely ethical as ruining a kid and mothers life vs killing an embryo.

Clippy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16968228)

Subject line says it all.

So many stemwijzers, only one vote! (2, Insightful)

wisse (398347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968248)

I do not have the impression that people actually take it as an advice. There are now so many "stemwijzers" online with so many different systems and outcomes that people do not take them too serious.
The best thing about the "stemwijzers" is that they get a discussion going about the programmes of the different political parties and that they might point you to possibilities you hadn't really considered. After all, there are so many parties to choose from here in the Netherlands!

Convince the public of neutrality (1)

getmerexkramer (955191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968280)

As long as the test can be/remain un-biased and can't be manipulated by the major parties, this has got to be the best idea for a voter-aid in a long time. To encourage voting (where it's not compulsary), make suggestions that don't necessarily revolve around two parties, and be seen to be neutral by the general public would make this an important tool to say the least.

Clippy! (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968316)

Hi! It looks like you're voting for a right-wing party! This time it's the Muslims who are being used to distract you from the decreasing quality of your life, increased bills, inflation, house prices, etc. Would you like to see the Muslims:

1) Humiliated?
2) Repatriated?
3) Gassed?

With government funding... (1)

ABoerma (941672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968318)

The IPP got a fair sum of government funding to develop the StemWijzer, too.
I think, however, the high number of votes for the extremist, populist parties is more because those were the only ones with a real agenda, for example animal rights or integration.

BTW, http://www.stomwijzer.nl/ [stomwijzer.nl] is even simpler, and a lot funnier.

What, this is surprising? (2, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968336)

So an infusion of ten minutes' worth of information caused a shift away from the political middle.

And you are surprised by this?

useful tool (2, Insightful)

u2boy_nl (927513) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968354)

I think these tools are useful. There are not many people who read the full election programmes. Some of them are 106 pages!

Suppose you're an average informed voter and you're planning to vote for party A.

You take the tests at stemwijzer and kieskompas, and then you find out that you that you don't agree with a lot of the party's views. That gives you something to think about right? I think these tests stimulate people to think more about the views held by various political parties.

Voters end up more informed after using them, how is that bad?

Personally I already knew which party i was going to vote on before i used both sites: party X.

Remarkably the results from both sites were right on, both showed that i had very high similarity with party X

BTW, i think the headline is way off, "Web-Based Assistant Changes the Face of Dutch Politics" is a gross exaggeration.
Sure, there will always be group of people who base their vote solely on the tests, and that is regrettable, but i really don't think that it had much influence on the outcome of this election.

Other factors (3, Interesting)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968426)

I think blaming the online test for the polarisation in Dutch politics is a bit short-sighted.

As some commentators remarked (for our Dutch readers, Rob Oudkerk among them), and consistent with what I hear around me, it is the waffling and trying to be everyone's friend of the centrist parties that drove voters to vote for politician that were actually willing to stand up for their beliefs.

A nice example is the centre-left PvdA (Labour party) waffling on the Armenian genocide. At first they were willing to go along with a hard line pushed by the (centre-)right that requiring a positive affirmation of the genocide by Turkish-descended politicians was a good idea, and when Turkish organisations made it abundantly clear that that would cost votes, the head honcho suddenly started waffling about whether or not the genocide would qualify as a genocide per se.

Disclosure: I voted for the definitely left-wing Socialist Party, so my view of Labour's waffling may be a bit biased.

Mart

Re:Other factors (2, Informative)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968966)

The strong shift to both extremes was indicated by polls before the introduction of the many online tests. As a result, we can conclude that the online tests didn't have a significant influence.

The reason for this shift is simply because large parts of the population aren't happy with the current government.

Statistically (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968492)

Statistically, a number of people ended up scoring in support of populist parties both on the far left and far right.

What odes that mean? Any ideas? I am assuming they are trying to point out that it was possible to choose any (or the major) parties using this. But what does statistically mean in this context.

I suppose the good this about this was that it didn't get the "pedophile party" a seat (yes... there really is such a party)

Re:Statistically (2, Informative)

KimV (68120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968664)

Just to make it clear, the pedophiles' party couldn't run. A party needs 570 pledges of support from voters (30 in each of the 19 districts) in order to take part in elections and they failed this requirement.

Subject misleading (1)

DjB_NL (1031314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968496)

While the original post puts forward a most interesting question, the subject of the post is misleading. Post fails to prove that the online voting tool http://www.stemwijzer.nl/ [stemwijzer.nl] changed the face of Dutch politics.

Stemwijzer is a very useful tool, in that it's purpose is to narrow down which party principles match your own. It helps voters to choose a party by simply matching the 30 answers of the voter with the answers of the participating parties. It then not only shows what party matches your answers the best, but also gives a comparison between your answers and the answers of every other party upon request. It also points to the party program documents of every party.

Most Dutch I know (and being dutch, I know a few...) only used stemwijzer to check if their mental picture (of the party program of their choice) matched the actual program.

To answer the original question: politics can't (and shouldn't) be simplified to a 10 minute test, but a 10 minute test is a great way to get to know 'the field' in a multi party democracy. That, and reading newspapers, watching political TV shows, discussions with friends/relatives/complete strangers and reading all the party programs...

To clarify the subject: the face of Dutch politics was changed because of the political move from center-right to center-left and a 9-seat 'loss of sanity' by the Dutch voters (out of 150 seats in the 'Tweede Kamer' (Dutch house of commons))

Nothing new (3, Funny)

Alcari (1017246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968506)

IIRC, we (the dutch) have had the 'stemwijzer' for at least the last couple of elections. I think at least eight years now (paars 2, balkenende 1, 2 and 3), and it hasn't hit the news until today? I know slashdot can be a bit slow, but eight years?

Extreme results make sense (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968514)

Most major parties have platforms that are compromises which only tend toward an ideological position. Many individuals have organized political beliefs; the consistency of those beliefs results in a net political position characterized as "extreme". When a questionaire distills those organized beliefs, they'll match up with parties that also have coherent beliefs, and those parties are on the fringe.

The reason why the web-based sucks... (1)

SagaLhan (1031322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968522)

The web based assistant (Stemwijzer.nl) has been around for some time. But with these elections, the different party's opinions were limited to the active discussion in the Netherlands. Example: You are an atheist, but Stemwijzer.nl says you should vote for some Christian party because they have the same opinion as you do. The only problem here is that this Christian party ALSO has an opinion about abortian, drug policy etc... that you do NOT agree with. But Stemwijzer.nl only shows the active discussions in NL, so this opinion isn't included in the advice. I believe that that is the reason why so many people got weird results. I know I did. But I didn't act on it! But somehow I think that many other people did.

Can politics be simplified to a ten minute test? (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968534)

Yup. [politicalcompass.org]

I voted in said elections (2, Insightful)

scenestar (828656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968630)

And in the netherlands we have democracy in which seats of parliament are devided by percentage of votes (unlike the american "winner takes all" approach )

This means that we have dozens of parties competing per election.

Now all of them have their own ideas and standpoints, and having to read all their party programs is tedious and boring.

Seeing as most people are more interested in soccer matches than politics the "stemwijzer" is a very good way in finding out which party represents your view. I consider it to be a great aid in democracy as voters make more INFORMED choices regarding who to vote for.

(On a sidenote, I voted sp and I didn't need no stinkin "stemwijzer" to decide that, but then again I'm a political geek)

It should be obvious (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968674)

Today's politics can be summed up in 10 minutes. More and more people want to deal less and less with politics, thus politicians have to offer simple, 'in a nutshell' solutions for complex problems. If they can't, people get bored with them, don't listen to them and don't vote for them. They need to offer popular, easily understood slogans instead of elaborate, through discussions and plans.

That can easily be summed up in 10 minutes.

I also don't attribute the success of the radical parties to the online voting 'helper'. Rather I blame the general disappointment with politicians and, again, the need for popular, striking slogans. People want everything, and they want it now. Compromises are a thing of the past. They don't listen to both sides and try to find a middle way, instead they want their way, their vision (or, more often, a vision of someone else that appeals to them), without any regard or consideration for others. Radical, populistic parties offer that more easily than centric mass parties who have to try to appeal to as many people as possible, and thus cannot take a radical stance.

To be expected (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968852)

I'm not surprised that a test such as this would have resulted in a shift towards the extremes. Major politics parties are the result of a concensus of a large subsection of society, as a result they must be fairly moderate since extreme views would alienate large portions of their base who do not share those views.

But individual people, who don't have to appease a lot of people or make well thought out defences of their views, will have a set of views that would be considered quite outside the mainstream. Normally they still vote for a mainstream moderate party due to advertising and popular support, but when something like this test actually confronts them with the fact that a party does exist that holds close to their views then they're more likely to shift support.

Also note that the test didn't cover things such as experience or credibility.

Overall I think tests like this will be a good thing for politics, it exposes the fact that most people are extremists/outside the mainstream and it forces society to confront these ideas. Some will turn out to be good, others will be exposed to be poorly thought out and lose credibility.

this is great (2)

chasisaac (893152) | more than 7 years ago | (#16968872)

I would love to have this in US.

Not the web based voting guide . . . parties to choose from. Where governments are actually representative of the people rather than the lesser of two evils. Sure the president would be one of the two major parties . . . however, the deadlock in congress would be great. None with a majority . . . that would be awesome. No, new laws. Most of the dumb laws all have sunset provisions on them such as NCLB, patriot act, and whole bunch more would just go bye-bye.

Someone mentioned the http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection [politicalcompass.org] I like this one thing it acuratly shows is the two dominat parties are both right (which I am) and authtorian. Of course they are. How would they not be.

After reading this I am going to have to check out http://www.badnarik.org/ [badnarik.org]
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