Volebný kompas is a Voting Advice Application (VAA) aiming at helping citizens make an informed choice in the 2023 Slovak parliamentary election. Available in Slovak, Hungarian and English, Volebný kompas invites users to react to 39 policy statements covering a wide range of contemporary policy issues and political values in Slovak politics. Developed by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, in close collaboration with the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, Volebný kompas provides voters with a clear view of the Slovak electoral campaign and the parties' positions within it. The tool’s strong scientific background makes it interesting not only to the general public, but also to academics, experts and policy makers. It is important to note that this tool is politically neutral. Volebný kompas is developed by academics for the wider public – it explicitly is not aiming at favouring any political party or candidate. Note also that Volebný kompas can be used completely free of cost by whatever interested person, organisation or institution. The code of the software of Volebný kompas is based on a previous VAA built for the European elections of 2019, euandi2019, originally developed by the Zurich (Switzerland) based company xUpery Ltd. under the name “Societly”. Societly is a functioning VAA software that is available for free, under an MIT license, on www.GitHub.com.
How does it work?
Volebný kompas represents a means for voters to gain an unobstructed view of the Slovak political space, and their place within it. This space is defined by the policies of the parties competing in the 2023 Slovak parliamentary election. Volebný kompas provides users a political profile based on their responses to a list of 39 policy statements. Users can react to each issue statement by stating their level of agreement on a standard five-point scale ranging from ‘completely agree’ to ‘completely disagree’ plus a ‘no opinion’ option. The user’s political profile can then be examined in relation to the 11 selected Slovak parties.
Selecting the statements
It goes almost without saying that the quality of Volebný kompas depends first and foremost on the statements we chose. This is not a very simple task and the Volebný kompas team spent quite a bit of time on this. Our first criterion was to look for statements that are politically relevant. Whether one likes Wagner more than Verdi cannot become a statement. However, whether the value added tax for food products should be reduced is an excellent statement to include: it is so because parties running in the campaign take up very different positions vis-à-vis this issue. And this is what we were looking for: statements on which there is disagreement between the parties. Furthermore, we wanted to cover the issues at stake in the Slovak election campaign as broadly as possible. For this, the team of Slovak political scientists who worked on coding the party positions suggested a number of relevant statements. Some of the statements are directly taken from traditional survey questions, allowing us to validate/compare our data with other sources. We also tried to re-use statements from earlier editions of transnational VAAs, such as the EU Profiler (EP elections 2009), euandi (EP elections 2014 and 2019) and other national ones (Germany 2021, France and Italy 2022, Estonia 2023). Eventually, 39 statements were selected, and all 11 parties were placed on these statements.
Selecting the parties
Deciding which parties make the cut is not a task taken lightly. Our baseline was established from a six-month period leading up to July 2023. If during this window, a party garnered 3% or more in any public poll conducted by an agency that is a member of the Slovak Association of Research Agencies, they were included. This 3% mark is below the 5% threshold required to enter the Slovak assembly. Our benchmark is intentionally more inclusive. Moreover, this 3% aligns with the Law, mandating a specific contribution for parties achieving such a percentage in national elections.
Coding the parties
Parties running in the 2023 Slovak parliamentary election and selected by the Volebný kompas team for inclusion in the tool were placed, statement by statement, by the Volebný kompas ‘coders’ (team members taking care of the party placement). Our coders were asked to specify what documentation they had used in order to place parties. According to the Volebný kompas methodology, they relied on a number of sources hierarchically ordered – the top being the party’s own electoral manifesto. In instances where the party has not released any opinion, the researchers referred to other party manifestos, party websites, statements in the media and other secondary sources. Also, parties themselves took part in the placement process and provided potential sources. If no public statement was found, but the party still wanted to take a position with regard to a statement, party representatives gave a short explanation to the Volebný kompas team to justify their position. All these sources are also visible to the users of Volebný kompas. Here is the rank-ordered list of main categories of sources:
• Current (2023) parliamentary election manifesto;
• Party programme
• Other programmatic and official party documentation;
• Interviews, press releases and social media communication from party leader or other leading candidates;
• Older election manifestos;
• Other sources.
In order to ensure the highest possible level of reliability among coders, coding was evaluated using inter-coder reliability metrics, and the team leader also ran additional checks before finalising the process of party placement. Where there were discrepancies, a final answer was identified by the team leader in agreement with the coder responsible for that political party and the party itself, always aiming at complete impartiality and independence. The information coded for the parties is current as of the time of coding.
The project’s primary goal is that of providing a webpage where Slovak voters (or anyone interested in Slovak politics) can simultaneously learn about parties’ positions and their own place in politics. As with every VAA, the makers of Volebný kompas aim primarily at helping voters make a well-informed decision. At the same time, and unlike most VAAs, it is the declared objective of Volebný kompas to provide scientists with a rich source of academically valuable data. The coding of Slovak parties’ positions on 39 issues will result in a rich dataset of Slovak party positions. The dataset, including supporting material and coding documentation, will then be made freely available to scholars and to the public at large. For further information on the handling of data, please see the related privacy statement on this site.
Volebný Kompas proudly partners with DenníkN, a leading Slovak daily newspaper and online news source.
The Volebný kompas team
Lorenzo Cicchi (project director)
Kamila Borseková (scientific co-leader)
Kevin Deegan-Krause (scientific co-leader)
Jozef Michal Mintal (scientific co-leader)
Róbert Vancel (country team coordinator)
Vladimír Müller (country team coder)
Patrícia Šimková (country team coder)
Alexander H. Trechsel (advisory board member)
Diego Garzia (advisory board member)
Lorenzo Corsani (tech coordinator)
Joanna Wielgo (financial and administrative coordinator)
Martina Popova (media and outreach coordinator)
Simone Ottaviano (tech support)
Stefano Brocchi (tech support)
Roberta Igliozzi (tech support)
Volebný kompas 2023 is a joint project. It is part of both the euandi project, hosted at the European University Institute, and the Horizon Europe project BRRIDGE, hosted at the Institute for Democracy at Matej Bel University.
This project has received funding from the European Union´s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101079219