The story of an election in a modern democracy has recently more and more turned into the story of a non-vote, as turnout at elections is on a general decline in many countries. That does not always reflect a certain libertarian strategy (otherwise the strive for anarchism would be stunningly on the rise), but can more likely be linked to an apolitical attitude. So how many Germans did choose to not cast a vote on this year’s general election (see the full results of the Bundestagswahl in this blog post)? 71.5% went to the polls last Sunday, so 29.5% of the electorate did not, which is slightly lower than the 29.2% non-voters at the 2009 election, though one can certainly not speak of an upward trend here. The following map gives an impression of this quite interesting geographical pattern that is far from evenly distributed across the country. The second map shows another group of voters who did not make their voice heard: The 1.3% of spoilt votes which again show a certain geographical distribution and are not completely evenly distributed. Even in the non-votes lie many spatial stories:
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:
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):
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)
(click for larger version)
Decline in Guardian Online News Coverage between 2011 and 2012
(excluding the United Kingdom)
(click for larger version)
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:
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:
The EU27 is history, with Croatia becoming the 28th member state of the European Union today. On last week’s European Council meeting, the ‘old’ members had other issues in mind, as the common agricultural policy (CAP) was one of the critical issues in negotiating a new seven year budget. The proposed changes in subsidies in this field of spending are quite important, as this part of the EU policies started a process of considerable changes in the agricultural landscapes in Europe over the years. The area of spending is not least relevant, as together with the rural development funding agriculture counts for almost 40% of the budget (see this map series about EU spending for more details).
The agreements that were reached are also significant, as the agricultural budget mainly serves the economically and politically strongest countries in the European Union. The following cartogram shows the redistribution of spending on the agricultural markets within the EU27 in 2011 (the most recent data available from the European Commission), which counts for €44,898 million of the overall €129,394 million budget:
Predicting future population chances remains a difficult issue. But while popular (and populist) media tends to dramatise every new release of population predictions, it is less often discussed that these figures are one possible scenario for what is an extremely complex issue. Small political and cultural changes in societies can lead to drastic long terms effects that change the future numbers of people within a country. The current estimates are therefore never figures that are engraved in stone, but estimates that look at the current trends that we can observe. The different scenarios therefore have an extreme variability, ranging from a decline down to just above 6 billion to an increase up to almost 16 billion. These are of course the very extreme scenarios in the latest revision of the Unites Nations’ World Population Prospects that has just been released. While it is almost certain that any scenario is likely to not happen in that way, the trends outlined in the report are in important political guideline that tells, what humanity should be prepared for and which economic, ecological and other implications the different scenarios have for the future. The following map shows a population cartogram of the most recent population estimates where each country is resized to its total population in 2013 (approximately 7.1 billion):