How do you show patterns across 28 countries without your mind immediately jumping to group the patterns into national areas? While working on mapping the 2014 and 2019 European Elections, I realized that even though I wanted to show a single European voting area, voting patterns are still very national, and thus patterns sometimes change abruptly at the national border.
The maps show the number of votes for each political group in the European Parliament as well as the votes for parties that didn’t make the electoral threshold (i.e. parties outside the European Parliament) . So bigger the bubble, the higher the number of votes that group received in that zone.
The only anomaly of the map is the fact that Ireland’s data is already aggregated on electoral constituency level, which are bigger than the grid I chose, thus the bubbles will always tend to be rather large and far apart (all the other nations have much more detailed, municipality-level data).
Unlike Maarten, who worked in R, my maps were made in QGIS (+a bit of Inkscape).
This is a long overdue blogpost with maps of the 2014 European Parliament Elections, which transcribes the info I had posted a few months ago on this Twitter thread.
For the 2019 Elections see this article in the German publications Die Zeit.
Center-right EPP group did best in Hungarian-minority areas ofRomania, Slovakia and German-speaking South Tyrol in Italy.
I does generally well in Hungary, Germany (especially Bavaria), Slovenia and Croatia, Latvia, Poland (especially Silesia) and northern Iberia.
Weak in France and Italy.
Center-left Socialists and Democrats group had a good score in Romania (especially the south and east of the country), in Sweden, Slovakia as well as Bulgaria & southern parts of the Iberian peninsula.
Industrial areas of the UK, western Germany, Wallonia (in Belgium) and Central Italy also high, as well as the Overseas voting areas.
It’s the only group present in all Member States.
The Conservative and Reformist group have a much smaller footprint among the Member states, but high numbers in the UK and Poland, as well as a good showing in Flanders 🇧🇪, Denmark and the Dutch Bible Belt.
Polish minority vote in Lithuania is also a member of the conservatives.
There are some notable areas with a Liberal presence, especially Estonia, Finland and the Benelux countries, and a pattern of regionalist (Spain, Croatia) and minority parties (Turks and Pomaks in Bulgaria, Swedish-speakers in Finland) in this group. But big states missing from ALDE.
The far left United European Left-Nordic Green Left is strong in rural Finland and Sweden, southern Portugal, the Basque country and the Greek-speaking member states. Good presence overseas as well. It is absent in the East due to toxic legacy, with very notable exception of East Germany and Czechia. This group also fares well oversees.
Within Greens-EFA group, the Regionalists are strong in Catalonia, Wales and Scotland. On the other hand, the Greens are strongest in lush French Guyana, some Polynesian islands, the cities of north-west Europe as well as regions with a history of environmental activism (like the Hanoverian Wendland). The group is notably absent in the southern and eastern parts of the union.
The backbone of the populist EFDD group is UKIP (strongest in England and Wales) and the 5 Star Movement in Italy. Further backing in Sweden and the Baltic-speaking states. Only present in 6 countries but highly concentrated in most of those.
The Non-Inscrits were made up of mostly far-right parties (Front National, Lega Nord, DUP, Golden Dawn, Jobbik) who went on to form a group in 2015. The Greek Communist Party, oddly enough, was also part of this non-group.
And finally a reminder that turnout varied a lot by Member State in 2014.
Maps made in QGIS + some Python work + post-production in Inkscape.
First thing’s first, what is a European Political Party (or a Europarty)? According to Wiki:
A European political party (formally, a political party at European level; informally a Europarty) is a type of political party organisation operating transnationally in Europe and in the institutions of the European Union. They are regulated and funded by the European Union and are usually made up of national parties, not individuals. Europarties […] express themselves within the European Parliament by their affiliated political groups and their MEPs.
Now they are important because they also field lead candidates (called “spitzencandidates”), who, according to a decision by the European Parliament and the precedent set in 2014, are the only ones who the EP will accept as a candidate for President of the European Commission.
This series of maps are born from the annoying habit of the mass media of treating the European Elections as national affairs, and only focusing either on patterns within nations, or on overall national results when looking at the entire European Union.
Following the variety of examples of “county level results” we see when the US holds elections, I decided to to create a similar map of Europe (and all its overseas territories where elections are held).
This being the EU, where “varietate” comes before “concordia”, there was an immense variety of problems when trying to have a uniform vision. Each country holds elections its own way (the whole restriction is that it has to be ‘proportional’), stores the data in its own way and is divided into administrative divisions differently. Not to mention the immense variety of national and regional parties, hence the need to group them by European-level affiliation.
So the baseline was trying to map the results by Europarties on the municipal level, which depending on the country are either LAU1 or LAU2 level divisions (see here), but in some countries that wasn’t possible. Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta and Slovenia could only be mapped by electoral constituencies (which in the case of Malta is the whole country).
So without further ado, here are the maps, by European Political Parties:
Later Edit – Two more maps: the winning party and share won by the coalition backing the current European Commission
Maps made in QGIS, with lots of python and pandas in the data-wrangling phase, including xml parsing (bleah!). A good dose of post-processing in Inkscape.
On a personal note I’d love those meddling bureaucrats in Brussels to lay out a minimum standard of collecting, storing and making available election data on a local level, as I would love to see a bit more detail in Malta and the island of Ireland.
Also, Cyprus, answer your emails!
PS. Other articles will follow, cause I have lots of data 😀
Inspired by Lisa Charlotte Rost‘s article titled “Election reporting: Which color for which party?“, I decided to take a look at color assignments for ed to European Parliament Groups as they are featured in the press. While European elections get less coverage than the US elections or national-level elections in Europe, they increasing in importance from one election cycle to the other.
Before actually talking about how these groups are represented, it is good to understand how European elections work:
Every 5 years, the member states of the European Union hold elections to send a number of representatives to the European Parliament. Since these MEPs belong to different national political parties, they band together in groups that are similar ideologically, as doing so helps them to better coordinate politically, as well as it being useful in getting subsidies and places in various committees of the EP.
So we’re going to look at the groups as they existed right around the 2014 elections, since we can get a wide range of presentations from multiple European media sources at roughly the same time. In keeping with Lisa’s article, we can see below the color assignments of these Groups both by the media source (on the right side) and on a color wheel, clustered by group (on the left):
What we see first and foremost is that there is surprising coherence in the color choices, even though there the publications span multiple languages, and even includes an example from a site in far away Japan.
This coherence, I suspect, might be the result of two factors:
A convergence in time, as some earlier examples seem to suggest a lot less coherence in color choice (like the 1999 example from the Economist at the end).
A sort of normative power of official charts put out by the European Parliament website, for example the first two lines in the chart (a lot of online publications just chose to use those)
One interesting aspect is that sometimes color choices seem to be influenced by national conventions with regards to the parties that make up those groups. For example:
• SD is pink in some French sites, because PS, the French socialist party within the group, is often shown as pink on the national level
• EPP is black in one German example (CDU, the biggest EPP member from
Germany is traditionally shown as black, as is the Austrian ÖVP)
• EFDD is purple in 2 British examples, even though the group logo is turquoise. That’s because UKIP, the main party of the group is associated in the UK with the color purple
The fixed and the still evolving
When it comes to the groups themselves, we can see that some groups have clearly occupied certain colors. The liberal ALDE is always yellow (a color traditionally associated with liberalism) and the Greens-EFA group is, well, green.
The left is also pretty consistent in its use of red, as well as the distribution of light – for center-left SD – versus dark red – for the far-left GUE/NGL, thus marking ideological intensity.
The same cannot be said of the right side of the spectrum, where we sometimes have 3 groups using hues of blue, albeit the 3rd group, the EFDD, is shown pretty consistently in turquoise, and if not, some other, non-blue hue, like purple, orange (?) or brown. Thus we shall focus on the other two groups: the center-right EPP and the conservative ECR.
Here, the meaning of the intensity of the color is not yet settled, so we have two competing situations:
• EPP light blue / ECR dark : thus intensity showing degree of ideological intensity, similar to what we saw on the left side of the spectrum. Or…
• EPP dark blue / ECR light : the more frequent case, where intensity correlates with importance of the group, or to put it differently, with its electoral weight, the EPP being easily the larger of the two.
And last, but not least, the “Non-Inscrit” group (NI), which is just a fancy way of saying ‘the group of those outside groups’ are in shades of grey, a color often used in charts to mark the ‘Others’ category, although the occasional use of brown could be explained by the presence of many far-right parties in this group (hinting at “brown-shirts” I presume).
This article is part of a study for a later cartographic project.
Colorwheels done in python/matplotlib, the rest in Inkscape.
Found an interesting set of data via Alexandre Afonso’s blog, called the Chapel Hill Expert Survey which “estimate[s] party positioning on European integration, ideology and policy issues for national parties in a variety of European countries. Questions on parties’ general position on European integration, several EU policies, general left/right, economic left/right, and social left/right are common to all surveys.” It has data for various years in the 1999-2017 period, and below are the various political families* mapped on the political compass:
Made with python / matplotlib and assembled in GIMP.
*) – According to the explanations, political family here is not the EP Group or the Europarty but: “classification is primarily based on Hix and Lord (1997), except that we place confessional and agrarian parties in separate categories. Family association for parties in Central/Eastern Europe is based primarily on Derksen classification (now incorporated in Wikipedia), triangulated by a) membership or affiliation with international and EU party associations, and b) self-identification”.
Context: For those unfamiliar with the EP Groups, here is a quick rundown: EPP – Center-Right, Pro-EU SD – Center-Left, Pro-EU ALDE – Liberal (in the European sense), Pro-EU Greens-EFA – Greens and Regionalists ECR – Conservatives, Soft Eurosceptic GUE-NGL – Left to Far-Left, Soft Eurosceptic EFD² (or EFDD) – Populist Right, Hard Eurosceptic ENF – Far-Right, Hard Eurosceptic NI – Others (outside groups)
The EU/USA analogy
There are two phenomena which converged towards the writing of this blogpost. First of, the recent US elections have put into question, yet again, the voting system used in electing the US president, where wining a majority of the votes can still leave one defeated.
Second, the recent Brexit referendum has stimulated discussions about patching up the real or perceived democratic deficits of the European Union, and one popular solution to this problem is the call for a directly elected European President. Given that the United States of America is often used as inspiration for Federalist proposals, I ran with this thought experiment.
What are Electoral Colleges
The US presidential elections are won by the candidate who wins the most “electors” on a winner-take-all-state system. That is to say, if candidate A wins the most votes in Texas, let’s say 56%, candidate A gets 100% of Texas’s 38 electors, not just 56%. The only two states that do not use “winner-take-all” are Maine and Nebraska (we’ll come back to these). There are 538 electors in total, 3 for DC and a number equal to the sum of its representatives (who vary according to population) and its senators (2 per state) for all the actual states.
Finding Electoral Colleges for the EU
The first problem with translating this system into the EU is finding the number of electors per each state. The “representatives” the EU system would be the MEPs (the ‘Members of the European Parliament’), but finding the number of “senators” is a bit trickier. The EU’s de facto Upper House of the Legislative is the Council of Ministers, which doesn’t have a fixed make-up. While it’s made up of a minister from each EU country, the minister in question varies depending on the subject of the legislation that needs to be voted on (i.e. if it’s legislation concerning internal affairs, the Council of Ministers is made up of each EU state’s “Minister of Interior/Home Secretary” – or equivalent). So a simple solution would be to add 1 elector to the number of MEPs.
QMV – a possible solution
One possibile alternative might be to take into account the Qualified Majority Voting (‘QMV ‘ for short) system of the Council of Ministers, and extract our “upper house electors” from there. Since the Lisbon Treaty, a passing vote requires a “majority of countries” (55% or 72% of them) representing a “majority of the population” (at least 65%) so there are no numbers to work with to get electors. Fortunately, up until 31 March 2017, countries can request a vote under the Nice Treaty’s system of QMV where each state had a fixed number of “voting weights”. So for example, the big 4 have 29 “weights” each, Spain and Poland 27, Romania 14, the Netherlands 13, and so on, all the way down to Malta’s 3, to a grand total of 345 “voting weights”.
So a possible solution for finding each state’s number of “electors” is to add up its number of MEPs with its number of “voting weights” from the Council of Ministers.
The easy way out
While the two examples above could make things interesting, truth is that just using the number of MEPs gives us about the same proportion of votes. See table further down.
The Belgian exception
Remember how Maine and Nebraska use a “per congregational district” system instead of a “per state system”? Given that Belgium is very polarized between its 2 main linguistic communities, I decided to apply a similar “per voting circumscription” system, and devolve the winner-take-all part to the 3 linguistic-communities/voting district.
I thought about doing the same for the French Overseas Territories voting circumscription, but given Frence’s centralist nature, I went with an “all in” approach.
Who won which state?
Now we get to the second part of the problem: applying our system to the 2014 European elections.
When people vote First-Past-The-Post versus Proportional Representation, voting patterns change, but since the European Elections are the only pan-European elections we have, I ran with the numbers of the 2014 EP elections. I took the the winner to be the europarty/coalition (basically EP Group) that got the most MEPs. When 2 or more groups had the same number of MEPs (as in the case of Cyprus), I took votes cast. Here is the result (as mentioned above, I used the numberof MEPs without any additions):
Referendumul de unire cu Sînmartinul din 10 mai a fost, din păcate, invalidat. Rezultatele au fost, după cum urmează:
Scor peste medie (96%) am întâlnit în cartierele de pe deal, în Dorobanți, Calea Aradului și în Nufăru. Rezultate mai slabe în Centru, Velența, Ioșia parțial, dar mai ales în capătul cartierelor Podgoria și Episcopia Bihor.
Voturile nule par să se concentreze în jurul cetății, în special în Velența, estul zonei centrale de pe malul drept și sudul cartierului Orașul Nou, respectiv pe Splaiul Crișanei. Sporadic și-n Ioșia și Rogerius.Prezența la vot peste media de 19,69% s-a înregistrat în cartierele Oncea, Podgoria, Ioșia (zonele de case), Grigorescu, Cantemir și Nufăru. Cea mai slabă prezență la vot s-a înregistrat în Episcopia Bihor, zonă preponderent maghiară, ceea ce nu este surprinzător, având în vedere că partidele politice maghiare nu prea agreau fuziunea. De altfel, alte zone cu populație maghiară semnificativă (Orașul Nou, Nicolae Iorga, Podgoria) au înregistrat și ele prezență sub medie. Sursă date: BEM, via oradea.ro
Hărți create cu QGIS și retușate în Inkscape (titlu, legendă, etc.).
Și după turul I, a urmat invariabil și turul II. Începem, din nou, cu datele generale legate de vot: Per ansamblu, distribuția e cam aceeași, dar peste tot cam cu 10% mai mare, cu maxime la secțiile 122-123 (centru), și 42 (str. Universității). Diferit față de turul I e faptul că minima s-a mutat de pe Calea Clujului în zona sudică a Orașului Nou (intersecție Decebal cu Sucevei) și s-au mobilizat puternic alegătorii din sudul Ioșiei, cartierul Europa și zona de case Cantemir – Muntele Găina. Votul pe listele suplimentare este în linii mari la fel ca acum două săptămâni (maxima la Universitate), dar de data asta se evidențiază și secția de vot de lângă gară. La votul cu urna mobilă, din nou, fruntașe sunt secțiile de vot unde pot face cerere cei din Penitenciarul Oradea, și procente mari se mai observă la secții de lângă spitale (zona străzii Magheru, pe Spitalului sau secția aceea din Rogerius, în imediata vecinătate a Spitalului de Copii). În schimb secția de vot de pe deal cu vot la urna mobilă de peste 10% este cam departe de Spitalul TBC, așa că explicație este probabil alta.
Și să vedem situația finaliștilor: Klaus Iohannis a fost, desigur, câștigătorul, cu scor foarte bun în zona centrală (excepție cele două secții menționate anterior), la Universitate, pe dealuri, în Episcopia și Podgoria, dar și în capătul Căii Clujului. De remarcat că scorul minim din Oradea (53,8%) e foarte aproape de scorul mediu (54.4%) obținut la nivel național, și faptul că cel mai mic scor este mai mare de 50% înseamnă că sibianul a câștigat în absolut fiecare secție de vot din Oradea. El a acumulat mai peste tot minim 20 de puncte procentuale în plus față de primul tur, dar pe alocuri cifra a ajuns la peste 50 de puncte. Nu e tocmai coincidență faptul că distribuția zonelor de unde Iohannis a câștigat multe voturi în plus în al doilea tur seamănă izbitor de mult cu distribuția voturilor maghiare din primul tur. Electoratul maghiar a migrat masiv spre Iohannis din motive destul de evidente (e ardelean și e minoritar) pe lângă faptul că oricum acest electorat are o lungă istorie de vot anti-„candidat PSD”. De altfel, județul cu cel mai bun scor pentru candidatul sas a fost Harghita, Sibiul nativ fiind abia pe locul doi.
Și apropo de locul 2, iată distribuția voturilor lui Victor Ponta:
Similar cu primul tur, scor mare în zona Velența-Seleuș-Calea Clujului, în Ioșia și unele zone din Nufărul, dar și în cartierul Europa, bulevardul Dacia. Cele mai mici scoruri s-au înregistrat în Episcopia și Podgoria, zone preponderent maghiare.
Față de primul tur, Ponta a reușit în general să-și mărească scorul cu până la maxim 10 puncte procentuale. Doar într-o singură secție a reușit candidatul PSD să obțină un scor cu peste 10 puncte mai mare, iar în mai multe secții scorul obținut în al doilea tur a fost mai mic decât în primul. Probail asta se datorează prezenței mai mari la vot, oamenii mobilizați în plus fiind în general mai degrabă anti-PSD.
Până BEC termină de numărat voturi și ajunge să pună la dispoziția publicului date din al doilea tur, să revenim un pic la turul 1 și regiunea Olteniei. Nu despre fraude vorbim, ci despre un județ care azi nu mai există: județul Loviștea.
Cine a aruncat o privire peste harta voturilor din turul 1 defalcat pe comune a putut să observe că în sudul țării, aproape fiecare unitate administrativ teritorială era colorată în roșu, dând fruntaș Partidul Social-Democrat, cu câte un pixel oraș/sat albastru ici-colo. Singura excepție a fost „Țara Loviștei”, care în secolul al XVII-lea forma un județ propriu, fiind ulterior absorbit de județul Vâlcea.
Depresiunea Loviștei face legătura dintre Sibiu pe de o parte, prin pasul Turnu-Roșu, și Râmnicu-Vâlcea pe cealaltă, prin pasul Cozia, și e posibil ca proximitatea geografică față de orașul lui Klaus Iohannis să fie responsabilă de scorul „de dreapta” de aici. Sau pur și simplu loviștenii sunt mai ocoși.
De altfel, nu e un lucru neobișnuit să vezi vechi hotare în hărțile cu distribuția voturilor, și oricât s-au dat comentatorii de ceasul morții că e diferență mare între Ardeal și Regat, acea diferență a existat mereu. Vezi: „Ungaria Mare și prezidențialele române”
Un alt județ din sud de care probabil n-ați auzit e Județul Saac.
Hărțile create în Inkscape, prima incluzând elemente din această hartă.