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Economics, Research

French Presidential election 2017 under the macroscope

Published on : April 18, 2017

Research labs' collaborative initiatives putting the spotlight on political life

Politoscope - © CNRS/ISC-PIF - Chavalarias D., Gaumont N., Panahi M. 2017.
With the approach of the presidential elections, researchers are coming together to conduct experiments, and to raise questions about the elections as well as the conduct of electoral campaigns. Using “on the spot” interviews, social networks and laboratories, these initiatives aim at understanding how democratic institutions function throughout the elections, putting the spotlight on political life.

Vote Differently 2017
With the collaboration of the GATE
A team of researchers and academics are conducting an experimental study to better understand the compared properties in different voting systems. This study has been conducted in five municipalities (boroughs), in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin), Hérouville Saint-Clair (Calvados), Grenoble (Isère), as well as, on a citizen’s initiative, at Crolles and Allevard-les-Bains (Isère). There are 16 polling stations, with 17 000 voters, which will test four voting methods: score voting, voting through approval, partial ranking, successive elimination and the Borda 4 method. In the first round, April 23, and on a voluntary basis, these alternative votes will take place in the same conditions as the official vote. The opinion surveys (polls) will be distributed to evaluate these initiatives on the spot. An online experiment is already available on Vote differently. This program aims at understanding democratic workings in collective decisions: it does not hold the same value as a survey nor does it influence the official vote, but it enables us to test the advantages and disadvantages of different electoral systems. The data collected will be available at the end of the election period. Research teams already carried out similar experiments during the first round of the presidential elections in 2002, 2007 and 2012.

An introduction to majority judgement
Between April 11 and April 23, two mathematicians will give web users the opportunity to «judge» the eleven candidates in the presidential election with an alternative voting method, majority judgement, fruit of a mathematical theory that they have developed and tested for a decade. Michel Balinski, Emirate Research Director at the CNRS and the École polytechnique, and Rida Laraki, CNRS Research Director at the LAMSADE (Université Paris Dauphine/CNRS) and professor at the École polytechnique will organise a unique online experiment on and on Facebook. Instead of choosing a candidate, voters will be invited to rate each candidate on a common scale with six possible ratings ranging from «Very Good» to «Reject». There’s only one round: the person with the best rating from most citizens will win the election. The vote is secured via blockchain technology, which enables data to be exchanged in a secure and anonymous way. The objective of this test on a large scale is to introduce voters to a new voting method and test progress on electronic voting. The experiment will help research on the questions put forward by Borda and Condorcet in the 18th century.

To take part in the experiment:

Politoscope, Twitter and politosphere under the macroscope
A special analysis of the political community and circulation of information on Twitter was developed by a team of researchers from the Institute of Complex systems at the CNRS and Analysis and Social Mathematics Center (CNRS/EHESS), led by David Chavalarias. The objective: to give meaning to this immense mass of data generated on this social network in the run up to the presidential elections. The Politoscope, or "political macroscope", will be presented to the media, Monday April 3 at 11 a.m., at the Complex System Institute. It will also be presented at the "Terra Data" exhibition that will take place at the Cité des Sciences in Paris from April 4, 2017 to January 7, 2018.

CNRS researcher: David Chavalarias

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