In many countries with multiparty systems, a decline in class voting has increased volatility and the need for comprehensive information about the political landscape among voters. Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) are online tools that match users to political parties and, as such, they hold a promise of reinforcing informational transparency and democratic representation. The current research investigated whether VAAs live up to this expectation by investigating to what extent VAAs affected users' political knowledge and vote choice in the Dutch national elections of 2012. Results show that VAA users feel that the VAA improved their political knowledge. In addition, those groups of VAA users who experienced a large knowledge increase, also relatively often indicated that their vote choice had been affected. This suggests that VAAs contribute to informational transparency by increasing knowledge among a potentially wide audience, and also that VAAs might increase democratic representation to the extent that VAAs persuade people to vote for the candidate that best represents their opinions. On the other hand, we found discrepancies between behavioural and perceptual measurements of the effect of VAAs on vote choice. This raises doubts about whether VAAs shape actual voting behaviours and knowledge, or rather perceptions of that.
- Political knowledge
- Vote Choice