Focusing on sharing information about the political parties of the various Portuguese parishes and municipalities, during the municipal elections, João Albuquerque decided to create the online portal As Minhas Eleições (My Elections), where voters can access detailed information on the electoral plans of each party in each county and parish.
Albuquerque told The Portugal News, that that "there is a big difference between the proportion of disclosure that a smaller territory has when compared to a larger territory." Because of this he created the platform aiming to assure visibility to councils and parishes that would not have so much visibility in the traditional media. The complexity of contacts and the amount of information required delayed the process, but João Albuquerque continued to move forward, and the platform can now be used during campaigns for the legislative elections.
João Albuquerque studied biomedical engineering at the University of Coimbra and works "as a consultant both in the scientific and technological area." The young man, who is now taking a PhD in Contemporary Studies, gained “a taste for politics and everything that it represents” when he joined the governing bodies of the Associação Académica de Coimbra.
Helping the young
With an undefined target audience, João Albuquerque is aware that it will be the young people who will benefit from the platform the best, due to it being online. The language used on the site is also more informal and, consequently, more appealing to a younger audience. To gather information, it was also in the younger strata of the parties that the founder of the As Minhas Eleições portal sought to establish contacts. According to João Albuquerque, contact with the parties was made with "partisan youth." It is also during these contacts that João Albuquerque is able to perceive the feedback from the party forces.
Albuquerque told The Portugal News that he is "glad that the response is enthusiastic", to the platform and added that he finds it interesting that the parties have even offered suggestions to improve the platform and mention that the As Minhas Eleições portal it is "a necessary tool for people to get closer to candidates and candidacies for the Assembly of the Republic."
In past elections, Portugal has seen high levels of abstention and João Albuquerque believes that “in the long term” the platform can help to lower these values. The young electorate are those who are least present at the ballot boxes, in any type of election. As the platform most aimed at young Portuguese people, it could be used for quick access to electoral plans, as well as the possibility of comparing two very different or very similar manifestos.
João Albuquerque also said how the platform could help combat the rise in fake news because the information on the platform is uploaded by the parties themselves and the site can even be used as a fact checking source. Once a voter has access to information about a party on a website, they can check it on the portal developed by João Albuquerque.
João Albuquerque concluded with an appeal to people to vote and highlighting that the platform also helps cover those who live abroad and can vote from the country where they reside, sharing relevant information for those who live in these conditions. The platform can be found at www.asminhaseleicoes.pt and will have information about the legislative elections from 16 January.