by Simon Duke
IF you’re still undecided on who to vote for when you got to the polling station next week, a new website has been launched which may prove useful when making your final choice.
By logging on to www.scottishvotecompass.org, voters can compare their policy preferences with those of the parties in the Scottish elections on May 5. The Scottish Vote Compass was devised by researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the e-Democracy Centre in Zurich and asks 30 questions on a wide range of policies, including the economy, the constitution, health, the environment, education, justice and public services.
The site then analyses the answers against the policies of the five parties with seats in the last Holyrood Parliament - the SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Greens - and plots voters against these parties.
Dr Chris Carman and Professor James Mitchell, of Strathclyde’s School of Government and Public Policy, helped to develop the Compass system.
He commented: “Choosing how to cast a vote is an extremely important decision for individuals and for democracy as a whole. The Scottish Vote Compass has been set up to help people better understand how their preferences are reflected by the main political parties.
“Of course, voters will consult a wide variety of sources in assessing the overall policies and proposals of these parties, and all parties contesting the election, but we would encourage them to use the Compass as a general guide to where they stand politically and where the parties stand in the election being held on May 5.
“The compass focuses only on policies and omits other matters that we know influence political behaviour.It is not designed to tell people how they should vote, only to allow people to see where they stand compared to the different parties across a range of issues.”
Fernando Mendez, director of the e-Democracy Centre, said: “These types of online tools are becoming an increasingly distinctive feature of the European political landscape, especially in countries like The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany, where they are used by a large portion of the electorate during major electoral events.”
The Scottish Vote Compass can be seen at www.scottishvotecompass.org and can also be accessed via its Facebook page.