# Phase 5 – The Theses
(6 weeks prior to the election)
Use the topics and information of Phase 4, to conduct a workshop with your team and your group of voters. In this workshop, you will work out a number of theses.
- Plan the workshop: what methods are you going to use? Teachers will be very helpful here!
- What materials will you need? Whiteboards, Pens, Paper, etc.
- How many theses do you need? Most election compasses gather around 50 to even 100 theses (for whole countries) at this stage.
- It will take you a few hours at least. Take care of your guests with pauses, lunch, snacks and coffee.
- Collect all theses in a list and don't forget to work on the wording.
# What makes a good thesis?
# Easy to understand
A thesis should, of course, be easy to understand. Prefer simple words and short thesis. If you find yourself using relative clause often, this might be a sign, your theses are too complicated.
Make sure, your thesis is not biased and is not using terms or phrases that have been claimed by a specific party.
For example: While climate change is a crisis, using the word 'crisis' can be received biased or associated with Fridays For Future. So it's probably best to avoid this term and find a more objective word.
# Consistent style
After constructing a lot of theses, you might find, that the majority adheres to your very own style. This might be a way to construct sentences, address the reader, punctuation marks, certain words and so on. The style should be consistent for all theses.
# Focus on political policies
Theses should not be about ideological values, but actual political policies.
Bad example: "Environmental pollution should be tackled"
This statement is completely vague. Voters can not get any political knowledge from this, because ideologically, they most likely already know where the parties are standing. What’s even worse, voters can interpret this thesis very differently. So be concrete.
Better: "All nuclear power plants should be closed by the end of 2015"
# Focus on one issue at a time
Theses should not be double-barrelled. It is very easy to accidentally merge two theses. And that makes them hard to answer. Every thesis should be about one policy and not mix two or more policies.
Bad example: "Hard and soft drugs should be legalised for personal consumption"
In this example, voters might be okay with soft, but not hard drugs. So how are they supposed to answer? Focus your theses!
Better: "Soft drugs should be legalised for personal consumption"
# Avoid quantifications
Theses should avoid quantifications.
Bad example: "Public places should have more surveillance cameras"
At first, this thesis looks fine. It is clear and short. But what if I don’t think there should be more surveillance cameras? If I reject this statement, what does it mean? It could mean that I’m okay with the number of cameras. Or it could mean, that I’m completely against them. It is not clear and this makes it hard to match parties and voters. It’s often difficult to avoid quantification, but sometimes it can help to get down to the real issue. Maybe, this is that some people don’t feel safe in public places at night.
Better: "Public places in our city are safe at night"
# Avoid qualifications
Theses should avoid qualifications as well.
Bad example: "Gay marriages should have the same rights as heterosexual marriages, e. g. adopt children"
This was taken from the Wahl-O-Mat of 2002 and while it was meant to just be an example, it makes it more difficult both for the voters as well as the matching algorithm. Voters might support gay marriages but draw a line when it comes to adoption. So what do they choose? In this case, it might be helpful to be more specific or even split this into two separate theses.
Better: "Gay marriages should have the right to adopt children"