In Focus: May 2015 – A Climate Change in UK Politics

Political InsightFollowing the full cartographic roundup of this year’s general election earlier this week, here comes a related piece of research. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (September 2015, Volume 6, Issue 2) Danny Dorling and I plotted the geography of an unexpected Conservative General Election victory.
What happened of most importance in 2015 was the rapid acceleration of a trend that has been underway in UK voting since 1979 and can be seen as having its origins in the 1960s: the increasingly uneven spread of Tory voters. The graph shows the minimal proportion of Conservative voters who would have to move seat within Britain if the Conservatives were to have an even distribution of the vote in that part of the UK at each and every General Election held between 1915 and 2015. In 2015 that proportion peaked at 19.9 per cent. When the UK becomes more polarised social pressures rise, people begin to separate more and more in their views, incomes and locations.

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Electoral Doctrine: Thirty-nine maps of voting

The 2015 UK general election is history and it seems as all stories have been told about the unexpected victory of the Conservative party. But the picture of the election is far more diverse than it seems and the political landscapes are more polarised than a conventional map of the first votes can show.
This poster, submitted as an entry to the joint BCS-SoC ‘Mapping Together’ Conference starting tomorrow in York, presents the electoral doctrine of the 2015 election. It is a cartographic roundup of the beliefs of the electorate in thirty-nine images that tell the full story of a shift in political paradigms that will shape the debates for the elections to come:

Poster: Electoral Doctrine - 39 Maps of Voting
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Asylum seekers in Europe 2014/15

2,500 people are believed to have died or gone missing on their way to Europe this year already, according to estimates by UNHCR. But it was the image of a young boy found dead on the shores of Turkey which changed the tone in the debate about the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. While the response to the crisis varies strongly, Campaign groups are calling for a European-wide approach to the crisis. While Germany suspended the Dublin regulation to allow regugees into the country and claim asylum regardless of where they entered the European Union, the country also calls for a more equitable system of sharing refugees across the EU similar to Germany’s domestic approach of distributing refugees.
The following cartogram shows the current situation in Europe using Eurostat’s latest statistics about the number of asylum applicants in each country. The data covers the first half of 2015 (January to June) and adds up to 417,430 officially recorded claims in that period in the EU member states. The following map also includes those European countries which are not member of the European Union but part of the Schengen area and it shows each country resized according to the absolute number of asylum applications in that country from January to June 2015:

Asylum Applicants in Europe 2015
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Refugees in Germany

As stated in a report earlier this year, “wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere” (see more details and a global map series at http://www.viewsoftheworld.net/?p=4541). In Europe, this has lead to a human crisis with many refugees seeking to get to the continent via sea and land. Beyond the human tragedy, the political debate has become ever more heated over who is willing to host the migrants.
Unlike the debate in the UK, where the government is more concerned about closing the borders into Britain at the most vulnerable entry point in France, Germany’s government is looking into ways how an expected 800,000 migrants can be accommodated this year. Using data from the most recent official statistics the following cartogram shows where refugees and asylum seekers are allocated in Germany showing the states (or Laender) rezised according to the absolute number of asylum seekers and refugees living there (the colours merely distinguish the different Laender and do not represent any further data):

Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Germany 2014/2015
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Changing Political Landscapes of Britain

Three days after the UK general election, the formation of a new (old) Conservative government is in full preparation with few new faces on the one side, and soul searching and the search for new faces on the other side of the political spectrum. There has also been plenty of joy for map lovers (even if they may not be equally happy with the outcome), including my own map series of the winning parties in each constituency. The following map series uses the same approach but shows further details on how things have changed in the political landscape of the country compared to the 2010 general election:

Map views of the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom
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Views of the 2015 UK election

The 2015 general election in the United Kingdom has ended with a very unexpected outcome resulting in a much clearer outcome as predicted in the polls. The Conservative Party with the old and new Prime Minister David Cameron has secured a majority in the new parliament, winning 331 of the 650 seats. As the BBC concludes: “The Conservatives win a 12-seat majority in parliament as Labour are almost wiped out by the SNP in Scotland and the Liberal Democrats suffer major losses.”
Looking at the election results in a conventional map, this very clear outcome becomes even stronger, with much of the map being dominated by blue (for the Conservatives) and yellow (for the Scottish National Party). Very little consolation for the main losers, but a more honest picture emerges, when changing the perspective, as shown in the following map series. The hexagon map shows the real political representation as it emerges in the Westminster Parliament, with every constituency being coloured according to the winning political party there. The third map in the series is an equal-population projection which gives every person living in the UK the same amount of space, so that the true picture of how people are being represented is painted. The latter differs slightly from the constituency view, as the constituencies in the UK are not only differing in (land area) size, but also in population size (which is part of a critical debate about electoral reform). So here is the complete picture of the 2015 general election:

Map views of the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom
(click for larger version)

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