department of informatics

SmartParticipation – A Fuzzy-Based Platform for Stimulating Citizens’ Participation

Publication Type:

Journal Article


International Journal for Infonomics (IJI), Volume 4, Issue 3/4, p.501 - 512 (2011)



Community Building, eCommunity, eDemocracy, eParticipation, Fuzzy Clustering, Recommender System


Social networks and communities have become an important environment for exchanging information about products, services, music, and movies, among other things. In an information and knowledge society, such technologies could also improve democratic processes, increase citizens' interest in political issues, enhance participation, and renew civic engagement. However, the difficulty of finding other citizens or parties that share common goals is still a barrier. In this paper, a fuzzy-based recommender system architecture for stimulating political participation and collaboration is proposed. As a first step, citizens and candidates must create their profile using a fuzzy interface to answer political questions. Afterwards, the recommendation engine computes fuzzy clusters of politicians. Finally, citizens can evaluate the top-n politicians from different political parties in an election process and/or build up communities that share their common interests. The SmartParticipation project uses the database of smartvote, a well-known voting advice application (VAA) for local, cantonal, and national elections in Switzerland. The recommendation engine works with a modified fuzzy c-means algorithm and the Sammon mapping technique used for visualizing recommendations. First results demonstrate the potential for building political communities and the stimulation of civic participation.