Frequently Asked QuestionsUpdated: 22 May 2009 (4pm).
What is the purpose of Vote Match?
Vote Match has four aims:
- To help educate people about the policy differences between political parties standing in an election.
- To inform people about the institution they are electing candidates to.
- To encourage people to vote by providing them with information on where parties stand on the issues.
- To be fun.
How did you decide which parties should be included in Vote Match?
All political parties that met one of the following three criteria were sent a long list of questions and invited to participate in Vote Match:
- Do they have a sitting MEP, or MP, or member of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly of Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly or the Greater London Assembly or;
- Did they account for at least 1% of local councillors elected at any of the last four local government elections (2005, 2006, 2007 or 2008) or;
- Do they have candidates in at least six of the 12 electoral regions.
If a party had a sitting MEP, they were told that if they did not fill in the questionnaire then we would do it for them. We would then send them the answers so that they could change any they were unhappy with.
How are the party responses on Vote Match determined?
All the parties were asked to provide their own responses and overwhelmingly they did so. We are very grateful for the co-operation of the parties and candidates with this and would like to take this opportunity to thank them.
Did any Parties decline to fill in the Questionnaire?
Yes the Conservative, Labour and British National Parties refused to fill in the quiz.
The Conservative Party has declined to participate in Vote Match on this occasion. These answers are based on their public policy statements and voting record in the European Parliament. They were sent to the Conservative Party in advance of publication and to the best of our knowledge are an accurate reflection of their views. To date, the party has raised no objections.
The Labour Party declined to fill in the questionnaire, but sent us an eight page document to enable us to do so. We did so using the document they provided and other policy documents and then sent them the answers. The Labour Party requested that a number of statements be changed to open minded which we have done. But in four cases, we have retained our original answers for the following reasons:
|Statement||Our response||Labour's request||Reason for not changing|
|The EU should prohibit national governments from imposing a mandatory retirement age on workers.||Disagree||Open Minded||The Labour government has supported mandatory retirement ages at a national level.|
|UK citizens should be given priority over other EU citizens applying for the same job in the UK.||Disagree||Open Minded||Quote from policy document submitted to us by Labour Party: "we will continue to work to deliver an effective single labour market." Opposing the single market would necessitate renegotiating the Maastrict Treaty, which Labour has supported.|
|All EU citizens should be free to work anywhere in the EU.||Agree||Open Minded||As above.|
|The UK should join the European single currency (Euro).||Agree||Open Minded||Quote from policy document submitted to us by Labour Party: "In principle we are in favour of membership of the single currency."|
The BNP were invited to participate on four occasions but declined to participate. Deputy Leader Simon Darby wrote to us stating:
Having looked at the way this is constructed it is entirely unsuited to a political organisation that does not believe in the concepts of the EU.As such the vast majority of the questions are entirely inappropriate.
NO2EU and the Christian Party were all invited to participate and expressed a willingness to do so but were unable to according to our deadline. The English Democrats were invited but have not responded.
Why did it take you so long to include Northern Ireland?
As we were due to launch we still had not received the responses from the majority of political parties in Northern Ireland and none had published their manifestos at the time. Due to both time constraints and a desire to have the answers from the parties themselves wherever possible, we opted to delay it for a few days rather than publish a weaker version.
The following Northern Irish parties responded to our survey: the Alliance Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Green Party of Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, the Social and Democratic Labour Party and Traditional Unionist Voice. The Ulster Unionist Party are campaigning in this election under a formal alliance with the British Conservative Party. We are therefore using the same responses for both parties.
Are you saying I should vote for the candidate or party that Vote Match says is my best match?
Not at all how you vote is entirely up to you! We cant hope to cover every single issue on the survey, especially local ones which you might care about.
But we do hope Vote Match gives you pause for thought, especially if you dont get the result you were expecting. We encourage you to take things further my visiting the parties websites, reading other guides to the election and exploring the issues.
How did you select the statements used in the quiz?
We started by drawing up a long list of statements which we drew from examining opinion polls about what people considered to be important issues, as well as feedback from a number of experts on European politics. The political parties were then asked to provide their own answers to these statements. From these responses we then prepared a shortlist, filtering out issues where there was uniform agreement or which did not otherwise provide us with discriminating information. The final list of 30 statements is designed to ensure that there are clear policy differences between all the candidates. You can of course examine this in detail yourself on the results screen.
How are the statements I mark as "important" weighted?
Very simply, they count twice as much as the other statements.
How are the statements I mark as "unimportant" weighted?
Very simply, they count as a half.
Why dont you have any statements about the personality, competence or record of the parties?
We are sceptical that a quiz could ever adequately take such issues into account. All candidates claim to be competent for example, if in different ways. Personality is highly subjective and the public record of candidates can be potentially misleading - it is perfectly possible that an individual may have changed their mind in the interim.
These are all issues that the media is far, far better at tackling than a project like this. This is one of the main reasons why we do not suggest that you necessarily should vote for the party Vote Match suggests you are closest to. We encourage you to look into the issues in more detail and draw your own conclusions.
Are you registered with the Electoral Commission?
At the beginning of this project we conferred with the Electoral Commission with regard to the legal status of a project such as this. They have confirmed that in their view Vote Match qualifies as an online hustings and thus does not fall under the definition of third party campaigning. Nor are there any election expenses implications for those parties who take part.
How are you funded?
Unlock Democracy, which runs Vote Match and underwrites it, is funded by a combination of individual donations and membership subscriptions, the revenue from its property holding company Rodell Properties Ltd and a number of grants from awarding bodies and institutions.
In the interests of transparency, Unlock Democracy has a policy to publish its full accounts online and to voluntarily declare any donation it receives, which is above the reporting threshold for political parties (£5,000). A full list of these donations can be found on our main website. We have also received a grant of £29,600 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd towards the cost of this project.
Our aim is to eventually run a Vote Match for every major election in the UK. We already have plans to run Vote Match for the UK General Election.