Do politicians’ answers to voting advice applications reflect their sincere beliefs? Comparing publicly and confidentially stated ideological positions in a candidate-centred electoral context


Voting advice applications (VAAs) are online tools designed to match voters with specific parties and/or candidates. Because candidate-centred electoral systems incentivize strategic positioning to maximise personal vote shares, it is unclear if the information that candidates provide in VAAs reflect their sincere ideological positions. The aim of this study is to test the extent to which candidates' responses to VAAs is a function of their private beliefs or if it rather reflect strategic position taking. We do this by comparing candidates’ pre-election responses to public VAAs with those provided in a post-election confidential survey in the context of the Finnish 2019 parliamentary elections. Our findings provide solid evidence of very similar responses by candidates in the two settings. There are hence good reasons to consider the information provided by candidates in public VAAs as sincere.

Electoral studies
Veikko Isotalo
Veikko Isotalo
PhD candidate in Political Science

My research interests include VAAs, data science and electoral research.