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Rate the European Election Candidates as they Debate

The debat-o-meter gives television viewers the opportunity to evaluate politicians and their positions live as they watch the debate

Freiburg, May 09, 2019

Rate the European Election Candidates as they Debate

Source: Debat-O-Meter

The European election campaign is fast drawing to a close. On Thursday, 16 May 2019 the leading candidates for president of the European Commission – Manfred Weber of the European People’s Party (EPP) and Frans Timmermanns of the Party of European Socialists (PES) – will present their political ideas and concepts in a debate televised by ZDF live starting at 8:15 p.m.  Viewers can use the University of Freiburg’s debat-o-meter to evaluate the contest via the Internet. Using a smartphone, tablet, or PC, they can say what they think of the politicians and their positions as the debate unfolds.

A team at the University of Freiburg developed the debat-o-meter. With it, participants can use the keys “double-plus,” “plus,” “minus,” and “double minus” to say what they think of what the candidates are saying at any time during the discussion. The team working with Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal of the Department of Political Science and Prof. Dr. Bernd Becker of the Department of Computer Science collect the evaluation data coming in from all over Germany, and can – to the second – determine how the debate is being received. In the end, the researchers know what the public agreed with and what they rejected, and what arguments convinced voters and which ones didn’t.

Because the data are gathered online, an analysis of the results will be available shortly after each debate. It shows which positions the researchers have identified as being decisive. Surveys carried out before and after the debate are also used to ascertain if viewer attitudes or which party they intended to vote for changed after watching the discussion. The questionnaires also make apparent which candidates were able to win voter support and which ones were not. Political scientist Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal says, “All in all, by using the debat-o-meter we are able to see to the second which arguments voters find persuasive and which positions fail to convince. It also tells us which candidates gained or lost support during the debate.

Afterwards, participants will receive and individual assessment of their own clicks showing the issues on which they are closer to one of the candidates or the other. If so desired, participants can choose to receive a detailed, overall evaluation of the results in the mail. People who would like to join in only need a smart phone, a tablet or a PC with internet access. After logging in, participants will be given a short introduction and the pre-debate survey. After that, it’s on to evaluating the debate. Once the show is over, the post-debate survey is administered before the participant is given an individualized evaluation of their results. Participation is anonymous and anyone who is interested may take part. Using the debat-o-meter requires no special software, just an internet browser. The debat-o-meter is switched on about an hour before the start of each televised debate at


Video: For more information in German on how the debat-o-meter works see



Registration and information



Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal
Department of Political Science
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-9361


Prof. Dr. Bernd Becker
Department of Computer Science (INF)
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-8142