5 A Political Economic Analysis of Transparency in a Digital World
In 2013, the Swiss free newspaper “20 Minuten” launched a series of articles, starting with the headline “These are the 20 most honest members of parliament”. On the newspaper’s online platform, readers could also have a look at “the most dishonest members of the National Council” and even browse through a list of all members of parliament (MPs) ranked according to the extent to which they kept their campaign promises. The ranking was possible due to the availability of two online information platforms. The first one, “Smartvote”, is an online voting advice application where candidates for parliamentary elections answer a set of policy questions, and voters can answer the same set of questions to evaluate which candidates best match their preferences. The second information platform is accessible via the website of the Swiss national parliament and offers access to all votes in the National Council (the upper house), including the individual voting behavior of all MPs. The combination of these two information tools allowed the newspaper to compare the MPs’ stated opinions before the elections (i.e. their pre-election promises) with their actual votes on similar policy issues after the elections.
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