Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

My View: App will assist the Euro voter

'A new online app provides information and advice to Northern Ireland's voters'

The Giro d'Italia painted Northern Ireland a refreshing shade of pink last weekend.

But will the colour of Europe be a distant memory as the green and orange of the Northern Ireland political landscape dominate the European election next Thursday?

To help keep the influence of Europe alive, a new online app provides information and advice to Northern Ireland's voters regarding the main parties' positions on the EU and other issue areas relating to society and the economy.

The app – which can be downloaded at http://eu1.euvox.eu/uk/ – asks voters to respond to a range of questions on issues such as the euro, EU foreign policy, same-sex marriage and funding the health service, as well as issues specific to Northern Ireland: parades, marching and a united Ireland.

Once voters have completed the short questionnaire, they are provided with a score showing how similar they are to each of the five main Northern Ireland parties.

More interested voters can also identify their closeness to parties on a visual 'map' showing the position of the voter and the positions of the parties on broad policy themes: EU (sceptic versus pro), economic (left v right) and social (liberal v conservative).

Because the app takes into consideration EU, economic and social issues not usually prominent in Northern Ireland debates, many voters could be surprised by the party they are matched closest to.

The purpose of the app is not to tell voters who to vote for, but rather to raise awareness of the European election.

It was developed at Queen's University Belfast as part of an European Union-wide project providing information to all EU voters at the upcoming election.

The app could provide a sneak preview of what political life could be like if politics here became 'normal'.

If ethno-national, or green- orange, issues did not dominate, who would you vote for?

  • Dr John Garry is senior lecturer in comparative political science at Queen's University Belfast

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