Bundestagswahl 2013: Electoral maps of Germany

Germany’s vote at this year’s general election has implications that reach much further than its national borders. CDU, the party of chancellor Merkel, could secure a massive victory getting 34.1% of the second vote share, though it narrowly missed an absolute majority of seats with its sister party CSU who won 7.4% of the votes (they are only standing in the Federal state of Bavaria). The former coalition partner FDP however missed the 5% mark (4.8%) that is needed to enter parliament, so that CDU/CSU now have to find a new coalition partner. Second largest party became that of Merkel’s contender Steinbrueck. SPD could secure 25.7% of the second votes. The only two other parties in parliament are Die Linke (The Left) with 8.6% of votes, and Die Gruenen (the Green Party) with 8.4%.
As often the case with electoral maps, the problem with conventional map depictions (as shown in the little thumbnail maps below) is the distorted perspective of the less populated areas. The maps shown in most of the media give the impression of an almost landslide victory of CDU/CSU. But while their good results are undisputable, the conservative CDU is traditionally strong in the rural regions, while SPD is stronger in urban areas. The following two maps show the largest shares of votes from each of the two votes. The first vote directly elects the local candidate into parliament, while the second vote determine’s each party’s total vote share in the Bundestag (Erststimme / Zweitstimme, read more about the electoral system in Germany at Wikipedia). When it comes to showing the real distribution of voting patterns in Germany, these two main maps give the more honest result of this year’s election:

Equal population projection map of the First and Second Vote Results in the 2013 German General Election / Bevölkerungsrastertransformationskarte der Ergebnisse der Bundestagswahl 2013
(click for larger version)

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Changing Views of the World

The mental map of the world though the eyes of Guardian Online readers in recent years may look a little bit like the following cartogram adding up the distribution of all online news items in the period of 2010 to 2012 (excluding the coverage of domestic British news):

Map / Cartogram of Global Guardian Online News Coverage 2010 to 2012
(click for larger version)

The picture confirms very much the hotspots of political, economic and in smaller proportions also natural events at the start of the new decade that we are now well into. Following the map series of Guardian Online news coverage in recent years, the following maps demonstrate a different approach to how change can be mapped in cartogram form. Rather than using the absolute values for a topic, when having a time series one can also look at the change between individual moments in time. So when wanting to see how the global news coverage of the Guardian website has changed between 2011 and 2012 one gets two sets of data, one indicating the absolute increase and one indicating the absolute decline in news items in that time. This is what the following two maps show, demonstrating which regions suddenly appeared or became more important in the media, and where the relevance and public attention dropped (while a stagnating news coverage – regardless of it being very high or very low – is not reflected in this approach and better shown in the absolute mappings that were shown in the first part of this data analysis):

Increase in Guardian Online News Coverage between 2011 and 2012
(excluding the United Kingdom)
Map / Cartogram of Global Guardian Online News Coverage Increase from 2011 to 2012
(click for larger version)

Decline in Guardian Online News Coverage between 2011 and 2012
(excluding the United Kingdom)
Map / Cartogram of Global Guardian Online News Coverage Decline from 2011 to 2012
(click for larger version)

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Not as patchy as it looks: Higher education institutions in the UK

Despite the apparently inequitable clustering of universities in certain hot spots across the UK, the correlation between where people study and the distribution of the general population is surprisingly strong. This analysis focussed on the mere geographic distribution and size of UK Universities rather than taking additional features such as quality of teaching or research into account, but already provides an interesting insight into how these institutions are spread in relation to the population:Location and size of universities (by 2011-12 student numbers) on a gridded population cartogram
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Everything’s Changing: A World of News

This is a map series visualising a comprehensive data set kindly provided to me on request by the editors of the Guardian Data Blog a couple of months ago (special thanks to Peter Martin and Grant Klopper for this!). The work on these maps started with the idea to make an update of the still quite frequently accessed maps of global news coverage of the Guardian.co.uk news website that I created for the years 2010 and 2011. As explained back then, while being the snapshot of one single newspaper this data also gives some indications of the way the countries of the world are represented in the print media in the United Kingdom, hence giving a picture of how the world looks through the eyes of the British people (it’ll vary slightly for other media outlets, though the overall picture will result in similar patterns).
I have now updated this map using the most recent data that the data store team sent to me (unfortunately it is not available in the data store this time). The data lists the total number of news items on the website of the British Newspaper The Guardian that are tagged with a specific country name. For the year 2012 the news coverage (leaving out the United Kingdom) on their website was distributed as shown in this cartogram:

Map / Cartogram of Global Guardian Online News Coverage 2012
(click for larger version)

With the United States being consistently the second largest country represented in the data (after the UK which is excluded in this map) it should be mentioned that this may not only be explained with a certainly quite prevalent US-biased media coverage in most of the British press, but could in the case of the Guardian also be explained with the additional fact that the Guardian is expanding its media activities more and more actively across the Atlantic (also launching a dedicated online US edition in 2011), and indeed worldwide, as the very recent move to the domain http://www.theguardian.com/ suggests.
With having a series of three years (ranging from 2010 to 2012) available, I was now able not only to look at an update to the previous maps, but could also start a little look into the changing patterns that emerge from the data. The following animation shows how the news coverage has shifted in this period:

Map / Cartogram Animation of Global Guardian Online News Coverage 2010-2012
(click for larger version)

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World Lightning: Thunderstorms and human population

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Time again to talk about the weather: Britain is suffering under heatwave conditions (also known as summer in other parts of the world), with the ongoing high temperatures and developing clouds going along with an increased humidity slowly increasing the risk for thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are not an uncommon phenomenon on the British Isles, but they are much less common and much less severe compared to other regions experiencing similar conditions much more frequently and more intensively. The Met Office explains that “Owing to the fact thunderstorms are created by intense heating of the earth’s surface, they are most common in areas of the globe where the weather is hot and humid. Land masses therefore experience more storms than the oceans and they are also more frequent in tropical areas than the higher latitudes. In the UK thunderstorms are most common over the East Midlands and the south-east.
As it happens to be, the part most prone to thunderstorms in Britain is also the most densely populated region. Comparing this to other parts of the world, it can be seen that some of the most risky regions are also some of the very densely populated places. In Europe, which is overall densely populated in many parts, the most affected areas are the people living in the Mediterranean countries, although the European population in general is amongst the least affected by thunderstorms when comparing this to areas such as the southern edge of the Himalayas in India – densely populated and experiencing very intensive thunderstorms. These details only emerge when changing the projection of data collected on lightning flashes from a conventional land area map (where this part of India for instance remains comparably small) to a gridded population cartogram. The following map shows the intensity of lightning flashes displayed as the number of flashes per square kilometre per year in each of the grid cells, while the distortion of the grid cells reflects the global population distribution, so that the most and least exposed populations are highlighted in this visualisation:

Equal population projection map of
(click for larger version)

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