EU Referendum Statistics

Sanity is not statistical.” The political rhetoric in the aftermath of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom has brought us closer to Orwell’s infamous state of Airstrip One then one could have possibly envisaged. Each side of the debate twists and turns the statistics and ‘facts’ to keep supporting their argument, while neither political party has yet managed to end the political stalemate in the country, which finds itself in a state of ‘post-truth democracy‘ that it slowly entered during the pre-referendum campaigns. All sides claim what can be best explained with the German word ‘Deutungshoheit’ (a form of prerogative of interpreting the numbers behind the result as the ultimate truth). The real truth perhaps is that there is no truth, and the deeper you delve into the results, the more complexity you find. So here are some more less-talked about findings that emerge when taking a second look at the EU referendum statistics.
As mentioned in my earlier piece on mapping the referendum outcome, of all those who were allowed to vote in this referendum, 13 million people did decide not to cast their vote, which – despite the higher than currently usual turnout – is a significant number that could have made a difference in the close outcome either way. Amongst those that voted the immediate picture that emerged from the polls published after the referendum was confusing. Several polls, such as those paid for by Lord Ashcroft and used for this analysis, agreed that the older people were those who were more likely to vote for Leave, while the youngest had the largest share voting for Remain. However, when taking the total electorate into account, and considering those who – according to SkyData – chose not to vote (or spoilt their ballot), this picture became far less clear than it first seemed:

EU Referendum 2016 Statistics: Age groups

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The EU Referendum

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EU Referendum 2016 Cartogram
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The decision has been made: 17,410,742 people of the United Kingdom’s 65 million population voted for leaving the European Union. These are about 26.8% of the UK’s resident population, or 37.4% of the electorate in this EU referendum. It also equals 51.9% of the valid votes cast, official figures from the electoral commission. Continue reading

Asylum seekers in Europe

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1,321,560 persons have applied for asylum in the European Union in 2015 according to Eurostat. Eurostat defines an asylum applicant as “a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member during the reference period”. This is not the number of granted asylum claims, neither does it mean that this is a figure for first-time applicants but includes all claims having been made in that year.
The spatial patterns for these figures are very different than those arriving as refugees on the shores of the Mediterranean (see here for 2015), as are the number of asylum claims in the past year. The following two cartograms put these figures into their spatial context by providing two different ways of interpreting the data. The first map is a cartogram where countries of the European Union are resized according to the total number of asylum applicants in the past year (all countries having more than 50,000 applications are labelled in that map). The second map shows this in relative proportions drawn on a population cartogram. Here the basemap shows the EU countries resized according to their total population, i.e. providing an impression of each country’s population share, and indicates the relative number of asylum seekers measured in asylum applications per 1 million population:

Cartogram of Asylum Applications in Europe in 2015
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Mediterranean Refugees (March 2016 Update)

Prince's Teaching InstituteThis year’s New Teacher Subject Day organised by the Prince’s Teaching Institute took place at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls near Manchester. For the geography teachers the focus was on the topic of Geopolitics and Borders to which I contributed a talk about ‘The Power of Maps: A Cartographic Journey along the World’s Borders’ (see slides at the end of this page) and also organised a practical session where the participants learned to create their own cartogram. Related to the theme and linking to the content of my talk, this cartogram was an update of the Refugee arrivals map from 2015 using the latest data by UNHCR. The following map shows the number of refugee arrivals by sea in the Mediterranean in the first months of 2016 (as of March, 3):

Cartogram of Mediterranean Refugee Arrivals in 2016
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Mediterranean Refugees

geoviews on InstagramWhile preparing a guest lecture at the University of the Aegean on the Greek island of Lesbos I looked for the most recent data about arrivals of refugees via the Mediterranean Sea. UNHCR states that in 2015 almost 900,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea which is higher than the total arrivals counted between 2006 and 2014. 3,500 people are reported dead or missing, which only shows the mere numbers behind the many personal tragedies happening in the Mediterranean. Not only the numbers went up considerably, but also the geographic patterns changed. While Italy used to be the hot spot of arrivals, this has now shifted to Greece where over 750,000 people arrived. Most of these arrivals come from Turkey, making the island of Lebos near the Turkish coast the first destination for the majority of people seeking refuge in the European Union. The following map shows the European countries resized according to the total number of Mediterranean sea arrivals in 2015:

Mediterranean Sea Arrivals of Refugees in Europe 2015
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In Focus: Europe’s uneven development

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Political InsightThe British debate about the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union comes at a time in which the economic woes of the continent have not fully overcome yet. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2015, Volume 6, Issue 3) Dimitris Ballas, Danny Dorling and I looked at the changing regional economic geography of Europe.
Europe is in an economic crisis – but the crisis is felt in very different ways in different places. Official unemployment rates are high, especially in the south of Europe, but joblessness is very low in places, such as Germany

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