Candidate selection engine puts many candidates in strange company on opinion map
Answers of over 1,600 candidates in Sanoma selection engine
By Matti Mielonen
The responses of 1,631 candidates in the upcoming Parliamentary elections - four out of five of the total seeking election - are in the candidate selection engine (Vaalikone) of Sanoma Oy. Now is a good time to check where each candidate belongs, and the selection engine includes an opinion map for this very purpose.
On the map linked with this article each cross represents one candidate. The colour of the cross indicates the party - for instance, a blue cross is for a candidate of the National Coalition Party, a pink cross is a Social Democrat, a green cross is a Centre Party candidate, and so on.
Crosses of the same colour would seem to form clusters. However, a close examination shows that the opinion map does not have a left wing or a right wing in the traditional sense.
The candidates on the left side of the opinion map are in favour of some kind of economic regulation, while those on the right side emphasise free markets.
On the map of the Helsinki electoral district, there are to the left large numbers of red crosses of the Left Alliance, and on the far right, there are brown crosses of the Liberals.
A user of the selection engine can check to see where on the opinion map his or her candidate is located.
Many crosses appear in unexpected locations: a pink SDP candidate can be in the midst of blue crosses of the National Coalition Party. The user can click on a cross to see the name of the candidate.
For instance, crosses of Swedish People's Party candidates in Helsinki are spread out over a fairly wide area. There has been much discussion in the party over whether it should profile itself as an all-purpose party for Finnish voters. If there were a question about mandatory Swedish language teaching in schools, the crosses of the Swedish People's Party candidates would be in a tighter bunch.
The opinion map does not give ready answers, but it allows the user to make different kinds of searches. The opinion map can also display a view of answers to individual questions.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 2.3.2007.
Sanoma candidate selection engine (in Finnish)
MATTI MIELONEN / Helsingin Sanomat