For centuries, travelers used a compass to navigate their journeys.
Now voters can use a compass to help find themselves on the political map.
JPost.com published the Israel Democracy Institute’s new 2013 Election Compass on Thursday, which is aimed at helping voters make an informed decision about whom to support in the January 22 election.
Depending on the answers given to 30 key questions, the compass will place your views on a bi-polar map divided by diplomatic, security, socioeconomic and civil issues.
The compass was invented in the Netherlands and has been used in countries around the world. IDI adapted it to the previous Israeli election in 2009 and has developed it further in English, Hebrew and Arabic for the current race.
“My mission is to make people become more active citizens,” said Prof. Tamar Hermann, the academic director of IDI’s Guttman Center for Surveys.
“The idea of the project is to make people think of their opinions in advance of the vote. They might have traditionally voted for one party, but if they examine their views and compare it to the views of that party and others, they might reconsider their vote.”
To help educate voters, IDI went through the painstaking process of obtaining the platforms of the political parties on key issues. This was not always easy because some parties have not decided their views and some are very divided.
IDI’s team was in contact with the parties, researched their platforms in previous elections, and monitored the statements of their leaders. The result is a resource unavailable until now that makes all the parties’ platforms available in one place with links to the party websites.
“We want people to make a more informed decision by examining information that they don’t have time to gather themselves, so we gathered for them,” said the compass’s project director, Dr. Raphael Ventura.
IDI asks respondents to the survey their opinion on the leaders of the parties for research purposes but makes a point of not including the answers to that question in the calculation of the compass, because it wants voters to decide based on issues and not personalities.
“People today are not voting on analytical thinking on the issues but on media images,” Hermann said.
Votes of people who do not live in Israel who take the survey will also be analyzed, to see how their views differ from Israelis. The compass is online in Hebrew on the Israel Democracy website, IDI.org, and in Arabic on Panet.co.il.
IDI decided to include the 16 parties that have crossed the electoral threshold in at least three polls over the past three months. That means threshold straddlers Kadima, Am Shalem and Strong Israel are in but Green Leaf and the Pirate Party are out.
Even though the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu are running together, IDI decided to include them separately because the parties have not united and maintain separate identities and different views on key issues. Bayit Yehudi and the National Union, however, are united in the compass.
When the compass was first used in the Netherlands, it affected the election there, because people who intended to vote for the ruling party realized a smaller party fit better with their views. Hermann said there was no political intention here in Israel.
“It’s just a nice game intended to encourage political awareness,” she said.