Some time ago I have published an analysis of the changing demographies of Germany on this website (see also the map at the end of this post). I used the data from this analysis to develop some further cartogram visualisations that put the increase and decline into the focus, showing how heterogeneous these trends are evolving spatially in Germany. The following maps show gridded cartogram transformations of population change in Germany in which each grid cell (representing an equal physical space) is resized according to the total estimated population increase (right map) or decline (left map) in the period of 1990 to 2010. They show, how population patterns chances in the first two decades after reunification:
The following map series is a comprehensive overview of the individual second vote shares of each of the parties represented in the new parliament after the 2013 general election (in order of their absolute vote share) and a look at the change in votes compared to the Bundestagswahl 2009 for the party who were in parliament during the last term. I also mapped a few of the smaller parties that are most relevant in the public debate. Please note that the following page may take a while loading due to the large number of maps and their respective filesize. Continue reading
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:
22 years after re-unification Germany has become an ‘accidental empire’ (Guardian) in Europe through its economic might. It is the largest economy in Europe and also happens to be the largest country by population. Germany has gotten into a political role that it seemed to be reluctant to take over ever since – in many regards the country is still seen as a reluctant power as Meier described it in a paper published in 1995 (today going much further than the role of the nation’s army). Post-unification Germany has been marked with many changes and the emergence of a reborn nation which stands in the centre of the future challenges of Europe. While the country struggles with a redefined role in Europe, its domestic challenges are appear equally tough: They are those of building a sustainable future for a rapidly changing demographic structure of society that is able to sustain a strong economic base. With a declining population, Germany may be smaller than France or the United Kingdom by 2060 if current trends were to continue (predicting future populations must always be seen with great caution – as some predictions from almost 50 years ago demonstrate quite well). Putting uncertainties about future trends aside, the question may also be whether a decline in population is a negative thing (and on the opposite, whether growing populations are bad either)? The pure numbers are less the problem, rather than the spatial and social implications that come with them.
Panic is never helpful for finding solutions, but look at what demographic changes are actually happening to find ways of dealing with it. The decrease of the fertility rate down to 1.36 children per woman in 2011 (according to the Federal Statistical Office) is already tackled with political measures (which may even already have first influences on the predicted trends as suggested by the MPG) and could lead to a changing trend – though probably not a reversal in the general trend of an ageing population (as reflected in the changing population pyramid of Germany). But most of the negative impact of demographic change in a spatial context have started with reunification in 1990 and lead to specific geographic problems that are the much more imminent for the country, as they led to a considerably changed population landscape:
Europe’s Economic Powerhouse Drifts East read a headline in the New York Times last year, referring to the shifting economies not only within the European Union as shown in a series of cartograms on this website, but also in a wider sense. As the NYT states: “Last year [i.e. 2010], the euro area’s share of German exports fell to 41 percent from 43 percent in 2008, while Asia’s share rose to 16 percent from 12 percent, according to Bundesbank figures. During the same period, exports to Asia rose by €28 billion, while exports to the euro area fell by the same amount.” Continue reading