The German federal election is getting closer. Before every election, there are many first-time voters or other voters, who do not yet know, what party they want to support. For this year’s federal election there are 42 different parties, it is nearly impossible to know each party’s program or agenda for the next four years. To give an overview on the parties’ positions, the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) releases a program prior to every election in Germany since 2002, called Wahl-O-Mat. It should help getting to know the parties, and thus making it easier to decide who to vote for.
The Wahl-O-Mat gives 38 propositions to topics from everyday politics, and the user can choose if he does or does not agree with this proposition, or if he is neutral to it. Questions for the federal election are, if the army should be allowed to fight inside Germany against terrorism, or if renewable energies should be subsidized by the state. After all statements, the user can mark some of them with a higher priority. So if it is important for somebody that the German army never fights on German territory, then he could make it a key criterion. The program then compares the user’s answers and priorities with every statement, each party gave and shows the accordance with up to eight selected parties in a diagram. This means, everybody has a quick overview what party shares similar values to the own.
There is even a more detailed part of the Wahl-O-Mat, where the program shows the concrete answer to a topic by each party, so it can be seen what the differences are in specific points. In addition, the different parties’ opinions can be compared, which will make it more clear what party is the most similar or maybe also the furthest from one’s own point of view. 90 percent of the users with an existing political opinion get their specific parties at the end as result, so the Wahl-O-Mat obviously represents the parties’ points of view in an unaltered way.
Before the federal election in 2013, the Wahl-O-Mat has been used by more than 13 million users. This shows that of the 62 million eligible voters in 2013, 20 percent have used this program to help them with their decision. A third of all users of the program is under 30 years, another quarter is 50 years and older. The Wahl-O-Mat can definitely help to compare the own political view with other parties. As a survey showed, half of the users wants to review what party they would belong to with their answers. As also mentioned on the website, 85 percent already know who they want to vote for, so the program is not only for getting to know the parties, but also to improve on the user’s decision for a certain party.
English website: http://www.bpb.de/die-bpb/138852/federal-agency-for-civic-education
Wahl-O-Mat (German): http://www.bpb.de/politik/wahlen/wahl-o-mat/
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