President of U.G. “Zašto ne” Darko Brkan in a interview for daily newspaper “Oslobođenje” spoke on the Glasometar (Vote-o-meter) application and Razglasaj 2010 campaign (Razglasaj.ba).
What is glasometar (vote-o-meter)?
Glasometar is a online questionnaire for testing voter preferences of the public. Glasometar offers the public the opportunity to familiarize themselves with political party policies and preferences in a interesting and simple way and to compare their own preferences and opinions with those of the political parties. Once they complete the questionnaire, potential voters can find out in what percentage do their preferences and opinions coalesce with those of various political parties on current political and social affairs. The questionnaire is organized into 8 different areas identified as most important in BiH politics and society. The questionnaire was compiled by a working group made up of experts from the academic community, civil society, and independent experts with long term experience in various areas. Once the questionnaire was compiled it was distributed to political parties to give answers on the questionnaire and in that way present their policies for the public. The creation of Glasometer utilized new advanced technologies based on modern internet standards. Now it is time for the general public to utilize the application in order to gain information on the congruence between voters and political parties.
What consequences does your research have and how can it help future election processes?
Above all, this research is first of its kind in BiH and the region. Just the fact that the vast majority of political parties gave official answers in the questionnaire gives us the ability to compile an overview of ideological and value system preferences and to produce data on political party preferences. Also, the public is given the opportunity via Glasometar to overview political party replies and establish a preference for a political party. We expect that around 100.000 users visit Glasometer which will therefore provide the opportunity for a detailed overview on ideological profile of potential voters and what are the most important issues as well as the level of congruence between the potential voter and political parties that can be used as common themes for forming coalitions. The potential of Glasometar is great which can be seen the day after its release as 3.000 users have already visited the application and answered over 60.000 individual questions on the questionnaire.
Are you favoring any one political party in your research?
That is not possible for various reasons. First of all, the application uses official party responses. Secondly, the algorithm for compiling data is very simple and easily checked and the programing code is available to everyone. Thirdly, the questions were compiled were the result of months of work, based on expert opinion and we consider them to be very objective and non-suggestive. Finally, the results and other data are kept in a database so that any manipulation is impossible Off course, we weren’t able to include all political parties into the questionnaire so we chose 19 political parties which have the best chance in participating in government on state and entity level, according to public opinion polling, which doesn’t mean that other political parties can’t contact us and be included. Out of the political parties we contacted, four did not reply, including SNSD, HDZ, DP, and HSP. As SNSD and HDZ are major political parties, we used their pre-election programs in order to answer the questionnaire on their behalf, therefore the questionnaire does not contain original political party responses only for these two mentioned parties. For DP and HSP we could not gather enough data to offer answers on the questionnaire.
How can the public find its values through your research?
The answer to that question must be found by individuals themselves. What we can offer is information that can help and guide them. Our recommendation is for users to concentrate most on areas and issues most important to them in order to get the most accurate results. When results are received by an individual, they should be carefully evaluated and it is also useful to look at answers given by political parties in order to compare their policies and evaluate how sincere their answers are in comparison to their activities thus far. Users can visit the portal on www.razglasaj.ba which is part of our internet platform and is dedicated to elections and providing relevant information. We are also available for any additional inquiries that users may have during this process.
Can potential voters actually make a preference by using Glasometar
They definitely can. This application represents a novelty on the political scene and the users will find out by themselves the potential that Glasometar offers. We hope that everyone that visits Glasometar will at least gain some new information that will affect their decisions on voting day.
What options do potential voters have if they don’t use the internet and would like to test preferences via Glasometar?
We also gave consideration to this problem. Part of the population that doesn’t use the internet will have the opportunity to use Glasometar via our mobile action which we are organizing in the period from today through election day. During these actions, we will visit over 20 towns in BiH where the public will have the opportunity to use Glasometar on computers that will be set up for this action and will get their feedback on the spot. In June we visited Banja Luka (14.6.) and Tuzla (15.6.), and we will be visiting Mostar (16.6.), Stolac (18.6.), Zenica (19.6.), Konjic (25.6.), Žepče (28.6.) and Travnik (29.6.).
(Interview by: Faruk Borić, Oslobođenje)