JUST in time for the Senedd election, a new voting app, the first ever to be developed in Wales, has been launched to help people work out which parties to vote for on Thursday.

As many as one in three people will not yet have decided how to vote, and campaigners are concerned many won’t vote at all if they don’t feel inspired by any of the political parties. 

“Vote Your Values” has drawn on the priorities of over 30 Welsh civil society networks to help voters identify which political party best matches their values ahead of polling day on May 6.

The app has been developed by Wellbeing Economy Wales (WEAll Cymru), the Welsh branch of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) which works towards an economy that promotes human and ecological wellbeing.

“The COVID pandemic has been a traumatic experience for all of us,” explained Duncan Fisher, co-convenor of WEAll Cymru. “However, it is clear from surveys all over the world that people want something better than what we had before; they want an economy that looks after us as people better and protects our planet.”

To find out what that economy might look like, WEAll Cymru surveyed the networks of Welsh organisations which make up its membership. They include business and farming organisations, women’s and youth groups, environmental and community organisations, movements representing ethnic minorities and many others, collectively representing thousands and thousands of Welsh citizens. 

These organisations fed back what was important to them ahead of the election and these priorities, expressed as values not specific policies, have been matched against the manifestos of the different political parties.

For Ellie Sanders, 17, one of Wales’ Youth Climate Ambassadors and a Wellbeing Economy Wales volunteer, working on this app has been a chance to make sure young people are better informed about the upcoming election: 

“Young people aged 16 and over can vote for the first time in these elections, but from the people I have spoken to I think young people are still unsure about who to vote for,” she said. “Many won’t bother voting. That’s why this app is so important. It makes it easy to understand which parties actually care about the things we care about, rather than just voting a certain way because everyone in your family votes that way – or not voting at all.”

Voters using the app are given a choice of issues they wish to prioritise under the banners of the economy, environment, health, equalities, community, culture and international affairs. These are organised under the Wellbeing Goals of the Future Generations Act – so there is a clear link to the Welsh law which is supposed to underpin all Welsh Government policy.

App users then choose the statements written by Welsh civil society organisations under each heading which most chime with their values and will be told which party is the best match for them.

“There are two exciting new aspects to this app,” said Dave Floyd, its designer. “Firstly, it’s based around the issues Welsh voters have prioritised, not what the political parties are saying, and secondly, it’s been developed from the bottom up, effectively crowd sourced from what groups of Welsh voters are saying. Too often when Welsh voters are given access to apps of this type they are based on flimsy outside knowledge of Welsh politics – this is very different.

“We also know that looking at the values of voters is a better guide to their behaviour than support for individual policies, which is why we think this will be so helpful: it can show which parties are on their wavelength, though some people may be surprised at the results they get!”

The commercial cost of the App was estimated to be between £20,000 – £25,000. Instead Floyd, drawing on pro bono support from his team in Swansea and with assistance from colleagues in USA, Argentina and England, produced it for £45.

Vote Your Values can be found at WEAll Cymru (voteyourvalues.wales)