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:
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:
World military spending for 2011 is estimated to be over $1.7 trillion at current prices, and has come to a relative stagnation after it has been steadily rising in recent years. As summarised on the Global Issues website, “the 15 countries with the highest spending account for over 81% of the total; The USA is responsible for 41 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the China (8.2% of world share), Russia (4.1%), UK and France (both 3.6%).” The data cited here comes from the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute who use publicly available data sources for its reports. Military expenditure is defined as “all current and capital expenditure on: (a) the armed forces, including peacekeeping forces; (b) defence ministries and other government agencies engaged in defence projects; (c) paramilitary forces, when judged to be trained and equipped for military operations; and (d) military space activities. Such expenditures should include: (a) military and civil personnel, including retirement pensions of military personnel and social services for personnel; (b) operations and maintenance; (c) procurement; (d) military research and development; and (e) military aid (in the military expenditure of the donor country). Civil defence and current expenditures on previous military activities, such as veterans’ benefits, demobilization, conversion and weapon destruction are excluded.”
SIPRI’s long term observations show how the decrease in military spending following the end of the cold war in the 1990s slowed down at the turn of the century, and has significantly been rising again over the last 10 years – now exceeding the levels of the 1980. A major impact on these figures has the revival of military spending in North America, as the regional breakdown of the data shows. Compared to that, the rise of Asia appears much less significant than one would expect, although the region is clearly gaining importance (see an interactive graphic of the data on the Guardian datablog).
The following cartogram uses the latest available figures of military expenditure from the 2012 update of the database, completed by own estimates for the missing countries. It shows the estimate absolute expenditure in current (2011) US$ for the year 2011:
Last week’s map series on the financial state of the European Union focused on a general overview of how population and economic activity relate to the financial framework of the Union. The current financial framework covers the period of 2007-2013 and ensures a certain planning security for the main areas of the common political goals of the EU. With the current framework expiring next year, tense negotiations are under way for the forthcoming Multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. The outcome will undoubtedly have major implications on the functioning of the European Union, as the budget allows key political areas to be pursued beyond national politics: “The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) defines the EU’s long-term spending priorities in line with the agreed political priorities and sets annual maximum amounts to be spent on each priority. The financial framework stretches over several years [...] to ensure sound and responsible financial planning and management.”
The following map series shows the current funding priorities of the EU budget. It shows that beyond the net benefits and contributions, large proportions of the money are actually redistributed between the wealthiest member states. The first two maps compares how much is paid into and received from the EU budget by each member state at the moment: