TASC – the think-tank for action on social change – today launched a new project designed to increase voter participation in the forthcoming European Elections. democracy @ tasc will be the portal for two voter tools which are already very popular across Europe: Candidatewatch and Votematch.

The principal behind Candidatewatch is quite simple: it acts as an online forum, enabling voters to ask European candidates questions online, and receive answers through the same platform. During the next few weeks, European election candidates will be criss-crossing their constituencies canvassing voters. Candidatewatch Ireland will allow voters to canvass the candidates - online. Candidatewatch originated in Germany, where it is run by the non-profit organisation Parlamentwatch e.V. This year, Parlamentwatch is collaborating with institutions in three other European countries to run national versions of the platform in advance of the European elections: TASC in Ireland (, Politik Transparent e.V. (Austria) and Politikercheck ASBL (Luxembourg). is currently the only English-language version of the platform.

This year, TASC will be acting as the Irish portal for Votematch Europe, but we intend to develop a specifically Irish Votematch before the next General Election.

The principle behind European Votematch is simple. Last month, representatives from all the institutions involved across Europe got together and developed 25 key statements relating to the European elections and European politics. All the European parties, or groupings, were then contacted to ascertain their views on these propositions. Users of European Votematch state whether they agree or disagree with each of these statements, or whether they are neutral. They can also assign extra weight to certain statements - for example, an Irish user may decide that European defence policy is of particular importance. Once a user has run through all the propositions, the Votematch programme ‘matches’ him or her with the party/grouping closest to the user’s views.

The statements cover a range of issues. Do you believe the production of GM food should be banned within the EU? Do you believe there should be a European Minimum Wage? Or perhaps you believe that public services should be exposed to free market competition? Votematch will tell you which European political groupings are closest to your own views.

Speaking at the launch of democracy @ tasc, TASC Director Paula Clancy said:

"Candidatewatch Ireland and Votematch Europe – the two voter tools available through the democracy @ tasc portal, - are about giving voters information. Why should we vote for a particularly party or candidate? What do the parties stand for? What do the candidates stand for? How close are they to my own views?

Measures to increase political participation are particularly important in a time of crisis. A strong and vibrant democracy will be vital to ensure that an economic crisis does not turn into a political crisis – a crisis of confidence in government itself”, Ms. Clancy said.

Also speaking at the launch, the co-founder and Director of Parlamentwatch e.V., Gregor Hackmack – who is co-ordinating this cross-European project from Hamburg – said:

"The candidatewatch platforms – now available in four European countries – are intended to help build a 'Europe of Citizens. I believe that citizens will gain a new enthusiasm for Europe if they are able to engage in a direct dialogue with those seeking election to the European Parliament. The web-based dialogue between voters and dialogues is intended to facilitate transparency on a European level.

"We are hoping that, following the European Elections, it will be possible to continue maintaining the platform in all four countries to facilitate dialogue between citizens and their newly-elected MEPs, so that voters can judge whether the MEPs are living up to their campaign statements”, Mr. Hackmack said.

The launch of democracy @ tasc and Candidatewatch Ireland was also attended by members of the Candidatewatch Ireland Board of Trustees: Fintan O’Toole, Sr. Bernadette McMahon and Senator Maurice Hayes.

Gregor Hackmack is an Ashoka Fellow, and both TASC and Parlamentwatch e.V. wish to acknowledge the assistance of Ashoka Ireland in implementing this project.

For further information please contact Alex Klemm, Tel. 01-6169050 or 087-2606139
For photographs of the launch please contact Tommy Clancy, Tel. 087-230 9947