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Want to know what political parties think about specific issues? AI offers a solution

Jip Koene,
16 november 2023 - 11:39
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Did you know that if you wanted to read all the party programs for the elections, you would have to sift through more than 1,800 pages? In addition, only one in five parties has bothered to translate their programs. The website Partijplein offers a solution. “Using artificial intelligence, our platform analyzes the content of party programs.”

Swing voters will again make an emergency trip to the polling guides next weekend. After all, the House of Representatives elections are just around the corner. But what if you still want to quickly delve into the programs of your top three? Endlessly scrolling through party programs is passé. That’s because the Partijplein website makes sifting through party programs extra easy. Type a keyword in the search bar, such as “climate” or “housing shortage,” and the site automatically searches through all the programs to see what the parties think about the topic. You can also select another language. Folia spoke with UvA alumnus Paul Lodder, one of the creators of Partijplein.

What is Partijplein?
“Partijplein is a website that makes it easier for voters to browse through the programs of political parties. We noticed a need for more depth after using voting guides. So we set to work in our spare time to create a platform that made it easier to search and understand these programs. Partijplein is the result of that.”
 
“In essence, we wanted to contribute to increasing voters’ understanding of political parties’ positions. Especially after discovering that the current political language is complex for many people, we wanted to make this information more accessible. We also paid attention to multilingualism by offering the information in, for example, simple Dutch, Frisian, and Papiamentu as well.”

Paul Lodder

How does Partijplein work?
“Partijplein was designed with ease of use in mind. Using AI and advanced language models, the platform analyzes the content of party programs. What is unique is that users do not need to know the exact wording; the model understands context and can bring up relevant passages from the programs that match the user’s query. It is designed to lower the threshold and simplify searching through the multitude of programs.”
 
Who is behind Partijplein?
“I set up Partijplein together with July Jagt and Khaled Tamimy. I have just completed a master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence at the UvA. July Jagt studied Urban Analysis, Design, and Engineering (MADE), a collaboration between the WUR, TU Delft, and the UvA. Khaled Tamimy studied Physics and Mathematics and has been working for several years as a technically savvy urban planner and management consultant. So we all have different backgrounds; AI, technology, and urban development.”
 

“Partijplein allows users to easily explore specific themes and party positions”

“I have already collaborated extensively with Khaled and July before. Last summer, for example, July and I created ‘ZonOpJeBakkes,’ a tool that allows you to see how much and when the sun is falling on a terrace, so you can get there in time. We’ve always been good friends from the beginning, who are, I think, also the best partners to work with.”
 
Stemwijzers - Vote Wizards - already helps voters make a good choice, so what is the added value of Partijplein?
“Partijplein offers in-depth and specific information about party programs. While Vote Wizards provides a general overview, Partijplein allows users to explore specific themes and party positions. We also focus on language accessibility by using language models that convert complex political language into more understandable text. By doing this, we aim not only to complement voting guides but also to create an accessible way for a wider audience to learn about election programs.
 
Click on the link to go to Partijplein.

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