Unequal Elite: World University Rankings 2016/17

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Education and money undoubtedly go hand in hand. A closer look at the metrics that go into the creation of higher education rankings such as the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings (THE WUR) proofs just the point that without adequate resources and funding global success can hardly be achieved. The following map which was created by analysing data of the 2016/17 World University Ranking data with regards to its spatial distribution of the most successful universities in this ranking. The map is a gridded cartogram which is reshaped to show national wealth, measured by gross domestic product. The land area in each country has been resized to reflect economic output. North America and Western Europe bugle to dominate this world map, while the entire continent of Africa virtually disappears. On this new world map, all the universities in the THE World University Rankings are plotted, with the larger, red dots representing world’s top 50 universities and the smaller circles representing the lower ranks:

Gridded cartogram projection of the THE World University Rankings 2016/17 showing GDP
(click for larger version)

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Political Landscapes of the United Kingdom in 2017

How much has the United Kingdom changed following the second general election within two years, and following the referendums on independence in Scotland in 2014 and the membership of the European Union in 2016? Each poll appeared to have had a significant impact on the political debate and the next vote which never seemed far away. As such, the 2017 general election looks like the culmination of the preceding ballots where all of the previous debates got a more or less prominent mention during the electoral campaign. Ultimately this led to some significant changes in the political landscapes of the country with each corner of the United Kingdom being affected by these dynamics.
Politicians, spin doctors and commentators quickly aim to interpret the outcome according to their views. In contrast, the following series of maps showing some key statistics and data from the election results aims to provide a more neutral as well as more comprehensive look at the underlying geographies. It shows different angles on key characteristics such as winners and runners-up in each constituency, changes in votes, vote shares of the two largest parties, turnout and changes in turnout between the last two general elections.
In this feature, different cartographic techniques are used to show how the electoral landscape in the UK is shaped not only by physical space, but also by political dimensions as well as from the perspective of people. The conventional (land area) map is therefore complemented by a hexagon cartogram where each parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon (some changes in constituencies over the past decades are reflected in split and merged hexagons), and by a gridded population cartogram where each area is resized according to the number of people living in that area.
Each of the three maps therefore provides a unique insight into the diverse spatial patterns of politics that emerged from the 2017 general election. To fully understand the new political landscapes of the United Kingdom, only a combination of different perspectives as shown here can help to gain a more complete picture. Geography matters not only in its physical dimension, but just as much in its social and political spaces that are depicted in these maps.
Here is the ultimate cartographic wrap-up of the 2017 general election in 21 maps:

Conservative vote share
Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017: Conservative Vote Share
(click for larger and labelled version)

Labour vote share
Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017: Labour Vote Share
(click for larger and labelled version)

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Britain elects: The changes

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Nothing has changed” was the infamous quote made by Theresa May during this year’s UK election campaign over a policy u-turn. This marked the beginning of a reverse of the Conservative support in the polls which eventually led to the changes that changed the political geography of the United Kingdom significantly when compared to the just as surprising result of the 2015 election. The following map uses the same approach as the previous map series showing the winning party in each constituency, but adds further detail to the picture by also highlighting how seats have changed between the last and this election:

Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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Britain elects: The results (summer edition 2017)

The United Kingdom went to the polls…again. Following the general election in 2015 and the referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union in 2017, the British electorate had yet another chance to have their say about the country’s future. After the then prime minister David Cameron delivered referendum which he had promised to win the 2015 election, the British electorate voted for leaving the European Union by a small majority of 51.9% which led to Cameron’s resignation. Theresa May took over leadership of the Conservative party and became Prime Minister in July 2016. After first resisting calls for a general election, she eventually decided otherwise in the expectation of strengthening her conservative majority during the Brexit process. However, the election on June, 8th led to the opposite. The Conservative party lost its majority in parliament with the Labour party making significant gains. The following map series shows the result of the election from three perspectives. The conventional map (left) provides the most common perspective, while the hexagon-map gives a clearer picture of the distribution of parliamentary seats where each seat is represented by a hexagon (middle, changes in constituencies results in some hexagons being split). The gridded population cartogram (right) provides the most accurate depiction of how many people are represented by each party, as it gives each person in the UK an equal amount of space (while constituencies vary sometimes significantly in their population size):

Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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French Presidential Election 2017

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The second (and decisive) round of this year’s French presidential election has led to a decisive victory of Emmanuel Macron of the social-liberal En Marche! party which was founded just a year before. Unlike other recent votes that have reached global attention, this vote was not close and was widely described as a sweeping victory. Macron secured 66.1% (20,743,128) of the second round votes against Marine Le Pen of Front National who received 33.9% (10,638,475) of the votes. Another difference was also the political message which did less resonate with nationalist or far-right rhetoric but was built on a pro-European and liberal campaign. 11.52% of the voters gave neither of the two candidates their vote by handing in blank or null ballots. Turnout was at 74.46%, only slightly lower than in the first round (77.77%) where none of the 11 candidates could secure an overall majority (Macron received 24.01%, Le Pen 21.30% which put them in the second round).
The following cartogram shows how decisive the political landscape of France in the second round of the election including the winning candidate’s vote share at municipal level (commune) in an equal-population projection, complemented by a normal map showing the overall distribution of winning votes at the same geographical level:

Gridded Population Cartogram of the French Presidential Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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(Un)Happy Nations

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March, 20th is the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness, recognising ‘the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world’. Bhutan is credited as the first country to have implemented the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’ as an official measure for the state of a nation, introduced in 1972. After the global financial crash in 2008, ideas about giving the ‘spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of [people] and natural environment’ more prominence over mere economic development are reflected more and more in international efforts towards a sustainable future.
The Happy Planet Index (HPI), developed by the New Economics Foundation, takes a rather radical approach on this issue. It aims to measure well-being and happiness by taking a universal and long-term approach to understanding, how efficiently people in a country are using their environmental resources to live long and happy lives.
This cartogram maps the results of the 2016 Happy Planet Index from the perspective of people. The gridded population cartogram shows the world resized according to the number of people living in each area, combined with the national HPI score:

Cartogram Map of the Happy Planet Index
(click for larger version including additional detail)

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