Voting next month? Test determines which party is right for you

Summary

It’s an expat lament: Where can I learn more about what the political parties stand for? While this information is difficult to find in English, there’s at least a test (in Dutch) that uses simple language to help you check the right box

‘For every voter’

VRT news has published its annual Stemtest (Voter Test) to help next months’ voters determine which party platforms match their own priorities most closely. There are four tests in total: for the Flemish and Brussels regional governments, as well as the federal and European elections.

The Stemtest was developed together with De Standaard newspaper and political analysts at Antwerp and Louvain universities. Based on the governmental level, it poses a number of statements with which you are asked if you agree or not. The test then calculates how many standpoints you have in common with all of the Flemish parties.

At the regional level, voters will find statements related to regional concerns or competences such as ‘Flanders should support Catalonia in its steps towards independence’ and ‘Brussels municipalities should be required to merge so there are fewer of them’. At the federal and European levels, the statements change to more appropriately represent policies set at those levels.

“The test is for every voter,” said VRT political journalist Ivan De Vadder. “People’s voting habits are influenced by a number of factors. There is the tendency, for instance, to vote for a particular party because of pressure from family and friends. But also the personalities of specific politicians play a role. And then there’s naturally ideology – the spectrum of ideas, opinions and platforms of a certain party.”

The essence

The Stemtest, which is only in Dutch, is meant to boil down every party to its essence and make it easier for voters to choose between parties that seem to be much alike. Aside from the 25 to 35 statements, the test includes a section where voters choose the five most important issues to them – issues about which they might feel so strongly that they would decide which party gets their vote.

“Every year, we get people saying: ‘But I would never vote for that party!’,” says De Vadder. “Someone can be, say, more ideologically socialist but have always voted for Open Vld. Like I said: Many factors play a role in our choice for a specific party.”

The results of the test – each of which takes about 10 minutes to complete – are then presented with your party choices in descending order, as well as a run-down of which party agreed or disagreed with each statement. You can also see parties’ official statements on each of the issues.

“By taking the test, you can determine your own ideological opinions and viewpoints,” said De Vadder. “It’s good to reflect on these now and again.”

The regional, federal and European elections are on 26 May. Only those with Belgian nationality are allowed to vote in the regional and federal elections.