The developers group Democracy Club have created an app which collects the CVs of candidates standing in the general election.
Democracy Club CVs is intended to help constituents get access to information on their candidates’ experience and background.
Users can also use the site to ask candidates for their CVs by sending an email or tweeting them.
The project was originally the idea of computer programmer and Freedom of Information activist Julian Todd.
The app was developed last February by Francis Irving, one of the team at Democracy Club and a founder of web scraping site Scraperwiki.
Irving has also previously worked on projects to open up political data such as Public Whip and WhatDoTheyKnow.
The main purpose of Democracy Club CVs is to help voters to choose their candidate. Francis Irving says:
“I’ve always felt we don’t pay enough attention to selecting MPs – we could do more to pick good ones.
“This way voters can select candidates with backgrounds and skills that they like. Especially when major parties often have very similar policies, this gives another dimension to be considered.”
The site has already collected 350 CVs, representing approximately 10% of all candidates, although nominations have yet to close.
“We hope the pressure on candidates to share their CV will be enough for us to get half the CVs.”
A useful tool for journalists
Apart from helping citizens, the app has the potential to be a useful source of information for journalists, providing background information when covering political stories.
Irving also explains that the tool is going to be very interesting in the run up to the general election:
“Locally, candidates’ CVs add depth to the campaign. They raise interesting points for discussion and content for questions.
“This app provides a way of moving the election coverage in fascinating new directions.
“Even just getting the CVs, and judging the form of the CVs so far, is an interesting election story. Nationally, the CVs in marginals will be particularly important.”
The long term aim of the initiative is to put pressure on political parties to recruit more experienced candidates from a wider range of backgrounds.
In addition, Irving hopes it will engage more people within the democratic process.
“We want voters to do lots more things when they select MPs. More interviewing them at hustings, and judging them on their record.”
If one of your candidates’ CV is not on the app, you can encourage them to share their details here.
Antia Geada is a student on the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University.