The Data Liberation Project 2

I am very proud and excited to announce the launch of Data Liberation Project 2 (DLP 2), with generous funding and support of FnF Lebanon. I will be heading this effort to digitize, edit, clean, and publish the raw electoral data of the 2005 and 2009 Lebanese parliamentary elections, making it freely, openly, and publicly accessible, in a machine-readable format.

Indeed, the Lebanese government, despite the recent promulgation of the access to data law, still hoard its data and complicates any access. Currently, only the 2018 parliamentary data is available on the MOI website, in PDF, while clicking on the 2009 data link leads to a 404 error. This is detrimental to the democratic development of the state and hampers the fight against corruption and fraud. Indeed, it has been academically proven that free and open access to public data has a direct impact on lowering corruption and waste! Moreover, access to data positively impacts research and academic, while increasing the participation and impact of civil society actors, especially youth and women, in the political arena!

Thus, following the 2018 Lebanese parliamentary elections, I launched and managed DLP 1, with the help and funding of the National Endowment for Democracy, a first in Lebanon’s history! With a group of talented data experts and analysts, we transformed the data from static PDF (with Arabic script) to Excel, then cleaned it, enriched it, and publicly publish it. The project was successful, and the demand for the data was widespread. The data is now freely available and has been included in the AUB data repository, for free access to the community. For more on the process, you can check the article on DLP 1 here, and the data here.

After discussing the idea, Fnf expressed interest, and DLP2 was launched, focusing on digitization of the 2009 and 2005 parliamentary electoral data. Unfortunately, digital (even PDF) copies of the two data sets are incomplete and filled with errors (for 2009), or totally missing (2005). Thus, we acquired the physical copies of the data set and used the talents of several hard-working data entry experts. In the next few weeks the data entry phase will be finalized and then with the help of data validation experts, database consultants, and a data manipulation advisor, we will start the next phase to complete the digitization of the raw data, validating it, and preparing the data for online publication and use by the end of 2020. The team will also publish several reports, visual illustrations, and infographics highlighting possible trends ( changes of turnout by gender and sect, over the three elections, for example) to showcase the results and possible research that could be extracted by having access to these data sets.

The data will be publicly available, for free, but if you are interested to learn about the latest developments of DLP2 and to be the first in line to access the data I encourage you to subscribe to our mailing list down below!

Finally, I would like to profusely thank Fnf Lebanon Project Director Kristof Kleemann and his team for their trust, help, and support in this endeavor. Of course, it goes without saying that DLP2 would not have been possible without the diligent efforts and perseverance of our hard-working and professional team. Thank you!!!

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