I did a small analysis on the Yle vaalikone data tonight. I wanted to find out if young and old politicians differ in their opinions. Can I, as a fairly young voter, expect to find my political soul mate among my peers?
Well, that seems to depend on what questions are important to you. By calculating the correlation (I just used the correl-function in Excel) between the age of the candidate and the answers given in the voters advice application you get an idea of how well political opinions and age are linked together. The bigger the correlation, the wider the gap between young and old:
The strongest correlations here are between 0,2 and 0,3. What does this mean in practice? Lets look at one of the questions more closely. The biggest difference between old and young candidates appears on the question about whether registered homosexual couples should have the same rights heterosexual couples. I did a visualization in Many Eyes to illustrate the difference: (click to open interactive full size version in Many Eyes)
So, do you think gay rights are important? Start looking among the young candidates for your pick. Is Nato, the length of the work day or the right to strike the most burning questions? In that case age is really just a number.
I recently scraped and downloaded all the answers from the voting advice application (vaalikone) of Kepa and did a simple visualization that showed the lack of difference between the candidates in the biggest parties in Finland on migration policy. I used the same material to analyze the opinions on Nato, climate change and free trade. These conclusions can be drawn.
Is Finland joiing Nato? Nope. Kokoomus and SFP holds a few supports, but most candidates appose Finnish membership.
How is concerned about the climate? Not surprisingly the left-green parties. Greens and leftists almost the same, socialdemocrats slightly more skepctical.
Free trade? It’s all the same. Surprisingly small differences here. Rightwing Kokoomus most positive to free trade policies.
This is my second project in Many Eyes. I like the output, but the platform could be much more user friendly. You can’t for example go back and edit an uploaded dataset, which means a lot of extra work if you find an error. In this case I would also have wanted the possibility to change colors according to my own choice.
Want to use the data yourself? You’ll find the complete dataset on Google Docs.
Elections are coming up here in Finland and the first voting advice applications (vaalikoneet) are just being opened. This is a bit like Christmas time if you are interested in data. Hundreds of candidates give their views on political issues and on the same time creating awsome data materials.
Unfortunately media houses have not learned to see the possiblities with open data. At least I have never seen anyone share the raw data from these voting advice applications publicly. But with some web scarping skills the information could be yours anyway.
Kepa, the Service Centre for Development Cooperation in Finland, has a nice little voting advice application focusing on foreign policy – migration, foreign aid, Nato, climate change, peace-keeping and so on. Scraping the site wasn’t too difficult. My main issue was the umaluts (åäö) in the urls, but after a few hours of discussion board and tutorial readings I figured out.
The scrape resulted in a dataset with the answers of 1045 candidates on 19 questions. I then grouped some of the questions that related to eachother into four thematic indexes: migration, military interventionism, climate change and free trade. As migration is one of the hottest issues now in the elections I chose to look more closely at this on.
I spent about half a day trying to put together a visualization in Google’s new Public Data Explorer. I think this service could potentially become a really powerful tool. However, at present it is very difficult to upload and use own datasets. You have to define the visualization manually in XML and despite a pretty straight forward tutorial, I couldn’t get my data uploaded.
How to read this graph: The x-axis is an index based on question one and two in the poll (should Finland allow more immigrants and refugees?). On the right side you have liberal, pro-immigration candidates on the left side conservative one.
For the past couple of months everyone today has been talking about the progress of the True Finns, Perussuomalaiset, a right-wing populist party that is said to be gaining disappointed voters from the tradtional parties. People basically feel that the big parties all say the same thing. The True Finns provide an alternative. This data shows this is more or less true. The candidates of all the three biggest parties – Coalition Party (Kokoomus), Center party (Keskusta) party and Social democrats – more or less share opinions (or lack of opinions) on migrations. There is hardly even a difference between Kokoomus and SDP (select each of the parties in the leftside menu to explore the difference)!
I don’t have time to look any deeper into this dataset now, but I will later. There are plenty of things to explore here. Do we see the same lack of differences in other questions? Is there a difference between old and young candidates? Do the different regions differ?