Lausanne Declaration

The Lausanne Declaration on Voting Advice Applications

Preamble

Elections are a central element of democracy. They legitimise the allocation and
the use of political power. Elections have to be organised in a true and fair manner,
allowing citizens to make their decisions based on their free will. Citizens have to
be informed about the available electoral choices they have.
Being convinced that Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) provide valuable
information about candidates and parties running for elections, support citizens
in the decision-making process in the course of elections, and allow for electoral
choices which are closer to the political position of the voters, and considering
that VAAs have become increasingly popular and potentially influential in the
electoral process, we abstain from suggesting an ideal form of a VAA, but rather
recommend certain standards and minimal requirements that should be respected
by all the makers of VAAs.

General Standards

1.1. In order to contribute sustainably to the good functioning of democracy,
VAAs should be open, transparent, impartial and methodologically sound.

Organisation and Management of VAAs

2.1. All institutions, organisations, associations, groups, private companies
and individuals financially supporting a VAA have to be made visible.
Funding has to be made transparent.

2.2. All intentions and purposes associated with these tools have to be revealed
by the makers of VAAs.

Access and Selectiveness

3.1. A VAA should be freely accessible to all citizens.

3.2. A VAA should aim at the inclusion of as many parties/candidates that
are on the ballot as possible. The criteria for the exclusion of parties and
candidates should be publicly available and justified.

3.3. Parties and candidates should not be excluded from the tool for ideological
reasons.

Usability

4.1. VAAs should be designed in a simple and intuitively understandable
manner.

4.2. VAA makers ought to carefully watch that the design does not favour a
party/candidate in a systematic manner.

Functioning

5.1. VAAs are based on the assumption that users’ proximity to parties and
candidates can be measured by their degree of accordance on political
issue positions. Ideally, VAAs make this presumption visible.

5.2. The issue statements included in a VAA should be relevant and reveal
the different dimensions of competition in the political system for which
the VAA is designed. If applicable, voters should be able to express their
issue salience by weighting or deciding on which issues they want to be
compared to parties and candidates.

5.3. Party and candidate positions on the statements can be coded on the
basis of expert opinions, of documents and party manifestos, and of                                selfplacements. The method used to position parties and candidates                                should be made known to the users of the VAA.

5.4. Following the principle of transparency, the algorithm matching users to
parties and candidates should be documented and clearly explained to
users.

5.5. The results can be presented to users in the form of rankings, maps, spiders
and graphs. Visualisations should be valid and instructive. Guidelines for
understanding the results should be provided to the users.

Source: Garzia, Diego, and Stefan Marschall (2014). ‘The Lausanne Declaration on Voting Advice Applications’, in: Diego Garzia and Stefan Marschall (eds.), Matching voters with parties and candidates. Voting advice applications in comparative perspective. Colchester: ECPR Press, S. 227–228. 

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