Category Archives: Maps

Who gets the UK’s 73 MEPs

UK-73

The UK will leave the European Union, most likely at the end of March 2019, two years after it invoked Article 50. Currently, the United kingdom has 73 seats in the European Parliament, representing England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, but the question is what happens to these seats once the country leaves?

Three solution

One option would be redistribution among existing member states. Since there is no predetermined formula, the redistribution has to be agreed on like any other change, through negotiations within the European Council. I doubt the EC has the time and energy for this before the 2019 European elections.

Another option, favored by the French president as well, is to create a new 73-seat European constituency. While I am sympathetic to this option, I think the most likely outcome will be the one of least resistance: leaving the seats vacant until new members join the EU, who then gradually fill them up.

It is from this scenario that the current visualization was born, as a means to explore which countries could join before the 73 seats run out. By using population numbers, I estimated how many MEPs a country was likely to get, and on somewhat subjective criteria, I added what I considered the most likely scenario.

The Western Balkans

While the Western Balkans are at different stages of accession, from opened negotiations to “not-candidate-(yet)” in the case of Kosovo, they seem the most likely states to gain membership in the near to medium future, and I think the EU is also very interested in getting them under its wing.

Turkey

Given the way Turkish politics evolved in recent times, and adding to that the fact that many member states fear the addition of a Muslim state the size of Germany, one can safely assume its membership is frozen.

The Eastern Partnership

Things here oscillate between “impossible”, when it comes to Belarus and Azerbaijan, and “maybe, but not right now”, when it comes to Georgia, who made strong progress on its European path. I think smaller states such as Georgia, Moldova and Armenia might have an easier time getting EU membership than bigger ones, such as Ukraine.

Other countries

Iceland, Norway and Switzerland don’t seem too eager to join any time soon, and Russia is both too big, too undemocratic and too confrontational to consider for this thought experiment.

On a side note: I think there is some potential in an interactive tool that could explore various scenarios starting from this premise. A map were you could add/remove candidate countries, enable/disable automatic redistribution of seats (based on the Duff proposal), and create a custom European constituency of any size. Unfortunately, I have yet to master the art of JavaScript.

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The History of the European Council

The EU’s Collective Head of State, the European Council held its inaugural meeting on 10 March 1975. In reality, the institution has its roots in the “Summit Meetings” or “Summit Councils” that started with the Rome Summit of 1961. To this date, 182 formal Council meetings have been held (not counting Eurozone Summits, but including Informal ones).

Unlike the European elections, where the makeup of the Parliament changes every 5 years, the composition of the Council changes every time elections in a member state bring about a change in government or president. As such, the Council is in a constant state of flux, especially when it comes to its political leanings. I wanted to track this evolution visually, to get some sense of how the Council evolved.

EC_Summit_Timeline
Click for full size

But the above chart was in fact a preliminary study for a dynamic map (inspired by similar ones featuring the political affiliation of US Governors throughout history).

European Council History

[EDIT] – YouTube LINK to the dynamic map in video format.

Some things I’d wish to highlight:

Interestingly enough, in 1961 the Charles De Gaulle’s party was a member of the “Liberals and Allies” group in the European Parliament (it switched to the conservative “European Democratic Union” in 1965).

“Independents” are PM’s/Presidents who are not party members, while “Non-Inscrits” (“Unaffiliated”) are PM’s who are members of a party that isn’t/wasn’t member of any EP party group, or whose MEP’s sat in multiple groups, essentially denying the party as a whole a political group.

In 2009, Fianna Fail switched from the Conservatives to the Liberals in the EP, even though the Irish PM stayed the same. In such a case, the color of the country changes as well.

There seems to be a consistent shift from the christian-democrats to the liberals in the last five years.

Greens tend to be center-left usually, but the only PM from a Green party was Latvia’s Indulis Emsis whose party is rather conservative, so I chose to position it centrally on the chart.


PS. Happy Europe Day!

Chart and map made in Python. (Updated 24.06.2017)

Etymology of European Union Institutions

Some etymology maps with the names of the main EU institutions. Obviously the “European” part of the name is left out.

1. The Council(s)
EU Council of Ministers
The most heterogeneous of the 3, there are three main etymologies spread across the continent: the Latin “Concilium”, the Germanic “Rad” and the Slavic “Savet” (which is indeed related to ‘Soviet’) with a few other interesting words dotting the map.

European Council
Although in most languages the European Council and the Council of the European Union are called the same thing, there are a handful of languages where the name of the two institutions differ, namely Estonian, Bosnian and Azerbaijani.

2. The Commission
EU Commission
Much less diverse than the Council, we find, as often is the case in these maps, that Icelandic, Hungarian, Armenian, Basque and Greek do not fall in line with the majority. Interestingly enough, the Breton word for the Commission is related etymologically with the Welsh word for the European Council.

3. The Parliament
European Parliament
An even more conformist situation than above, here even Hungarian and Basque use the dominant word of “Parliament”. It’s worth pointing out that often the national legislatures have a much higher diversity of names.

Made in Inkscape. Base map from Wikimedia Commons. Data mostly from Wiktionary and Wikipedia.

For more such maps, visit /r/etymologymaps on reddit.

The curious case of Romania’s Gheorghe Doja streets

Having streets in Hungary named after a Hungarian historical figure is nothing unusual. It’s by no means that unheard of to have streets in neighboring countries bear said name, provided  that we’re talking about areas where ethnic Hungarians make up a significant slice of the population. But what sets Dózsa György apart is that his name was used to christen street all across Romania, including many town where few, if any, Hungarians have lived. A weird relic of early communist times, when revolutionary credentials were more important than national origin…

dozsa-doja-infographic

Made in QGIS and Inkscape.
Data: OpenStreetMap and the Romanian Permanent Electoral Authority

Romanian version: Link

What if: the EU had presidential elections like the USA?

electoral-college-eu2

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):

EUROPARTY MEPs+Nice QMV MEPs+1 MEPs
no. % no. % no. %
EPP 506 45.9 356 45.7 342 45.5
SD 228 20.7 165 21.2 160 21.3
ALDE 111 10.1 73 9.4 68 9.1
GUE-NGL 33 3.0 22 2.8 21 2.8
ECR 20 1.8 14 1.8 13 1.7
EFD² 102 9.2 74 9.5 73 9.7
ENF 103 9.3 75 9.6 74 9.9

Made in Inkscape. Inspired by the Fivethirtyeight’s Electoral College cartogram

Federalist sentiment in the European Union

The imminent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has raised some important questions regarding the future of the EU. Given that the member state which, for a long time, has been seen as the most obtrusive is on its way to triggering Article 50, a lot of people have expressed hope that the federalist direction of EU reforms can now progress in a more unimpeded fashion. Others have rightly warned that Euroskeptic sentiment was not confined to the UK and other states might be less than happy to hand over more sovereignty to the European level.

In trying to find an answer to the question “Who’ll be the next Great Britain at the table”, the EU’s Standard Eurobarometer collection offers some strong hints. Unfortunately, only 4 such Eurobarometers contain questions relating to willingness to move towards a “federation of nation-states”, as the question was discontinued after spring 2014.

eb81-federalism

Some interesting patterns can however be noticed:

  • The Nordic countries are the most anti-federalist, even more so than the UK, with ‘No’ always at least double the size of ‘Yes’
  • Ireland, surprisingly, never had ‘Yes’ outnumber ‘No’, albeit the difference was small
  • Most member states hover around the center, with a slightly positive dent in the score
  • The public opinion of Hungary and Poland is more federalist than their current governments’ reputation would lead to believe

On the other hand, one should be careful in drawing conclusions, as:

  • Scandinavian Euroskepticism might be different to British Euroskepticism
  • The question is somewhat ambiguous, as some might see a contradiction between “a federation” and “nation-states”
  • There are only 4 Eurobarometers, so the picture might be incomplete or outdated

Nonetheless, it is obvious that the “smooth sailing towards Federalism” envisaged by some is nowhere near the horizon, and we might soon see a Nordic Group giving headaches in the EU Council, when discussion the EU’s Future.


Infographic made in QGIS, Inkscape and Veusz. Data via the 78-81 Eurobarometers

Anti-burkini decrees

Surely, one of the most bizarre controversies this summer was (and still is) the whole anti-burkini debate going on in France. Regardless of the debate itself, one annoying feature of the way it is reported in the press is the lack of cartographic representations of the extent of the municipal bans. The following image tries to rectify this, and given that France’s top administrative court has just overturned the municipal decree of Villeneuve-Loubet, I doubt there will be any new additions to the list of municipalities:

Burkini Arret Municipal

Made in QGIS and Inkscape. Basemap source: OSM and Wiki Commons.

Mega Image Archipelago

MegaImageArchipelago

Mega Image is a series of convenience stores owned by the Dutch Delhaize Group. Bucharest + its suburbs, Ploiești, Brașov and Constanța are the only 4 urban areas that boast with 3 or more Mega Image stores, with a few more spread here and there around Bucharest, making their distribution highly localized, with their density within the capital being huge. It has become a running joke with Romania’s main satire-news site, 3% of their articles poking fun at the retail chain’s tendency to open one store next another, similar to the Lewis Black’s old “Starbuck’s next to a Starbuck’s” stand up.

MegaImageNR

The distribution of the stores outside the capital seems to follow the holiday habits of the native Bucharester. Outside the capital, they are found in Constanța, on the seaside, and on the Prahova Valley-Brașov area, in the mountains, both popular weekend getaway destinataions for folks in the capital. For most of the rest of us, Mega Image is just an obscure thing, people from the capital joke about, a Bucharest meme that hardly makes sense outside the capital.

My map is meant to represent the isolated patches of civilized land, where one is never too far from the presence of a Mega Image.

Made with QGIS and Inkscape. Inspired by this map.

Fenomenul “strada Gheorghe Doja”

TitleSebis2b

În localitatea Sebiș, din județul Arad, vizavi de primăria cea modernă, în miezul unui sens giratoriu unde asfaltul a fost de mult înlocuit cu pișcoți, se înalță o statuie cu o tânără domniță, simbolizând, probabil, un măreț ideal. Pe soclul statuii, trei de-o parte, trei de alta, se văd șase medalioane cu chipurile unor personaje de vază ale istoriei românești: Mihai Viteazul, Constantin Brâncoveanul, Avram Iancu, Horea, Decebal și… Dózsa György.

Secuiul Gheorghe Doja e un element interesant al istoriei românești, căci, la fel ca sărbătoarea de „1 Mai muncitoresc”, este lăsată moștenire de comuniști, da nu deranjează pe nimeni. A apărut în manuale în perioada lui Dej, că era bun și pe latura ideologică (era contra „moșierilor”), și pe cea pragmatică (dădea bine la minoritatea maghiară, curtată pe-atunci de comuniști). Când a venit perioada naționalistă a lui Ceaușescu, s-a trecut peste detaliul etniei, și s-a marșat doar pe partea ideologică, iar după ’89 a rămas din inerție. La urma urmei, noi știm că atunci când țărănimea se răscula în Ardeal o făcea contra „grofilor maghiari”, precum au făcut Horea, Cloșca și Crișan sau Avram Iancu, așa că și Gheorghe Doja, lider de răscoală, tot din același film trebuia să fie…

Doja Vertical
Hărți realizate în QGIS și Inkscape.
Date: OpenStreetMap și Autoritatea Electorală Permanentă

Cultele neoprotestante din Romania

Neoprotestanti
English version: Click here!
Prin termenul de „neoprotestant” se înțeleg acele culte protestante apărute pe teritoriul României începând cu secolul al XIX-lea și recunoscute oficial astăzi. Spre deosebire de occidentul anglo-saxon, unde n-a existat o separare clară între „paleoprotestanți” și „neoprotestanți”, pe teritoriul României au existat două valuri distincte de protestantism:

  1. cel inițial, de secol XVI, de unde avem bisericile protestante clasice: reformată (maghiară), unitariană (maghiară), luterană (cu două biserici, una săsească, și una maghiaro-slovacă), și
  2. cel modern, începând din secolul XIX, de unde avem cultele numite popular și „pocăite”.

În general, aceste culte sunt destul de similare, și multă lume nu face distincție între ele, însă, văzute din exterior, în linii mari, ele par să se distingă prin următoarele:

  1. Cultul baptist – Considerat de unii americani ca încadrându-se undeva la jumătatea drumului dintre protestanții „clasici” și cei „neo-”, este cel mai vechi cult „pocăit”, atât ca istorie proprie (a apărut prin secolul al XVII-lea) cât și ca prezență pe teritoriul României. Numele vine de la practica botezului la vârstă adultă.
  2. Penticostalismul – Cel mai numeros cult „pocăit” de la noi, și totodată cel cu cea mai rapidă creștere ca număr de adepți. Apărut în secolul XX ca o mișcare reformistă, pune accent pe „botezul cu Duhul Sfânt” și sunt cunoscuți pentru practica „vorbitului în limbi”. (Merită menționat faptul că această confesiune a avut o puternică răspândire și în rândul populației de etnie romă, și nu doar la noi. De exemplu, și comuna cu cea mai mare proporție de penticostali este una majoritar romă – 70% aparținând acestei etnii)
  3. Cultul adventist – numiți uneori și „sâmbetiști”, sunt cunoscuți pentru faptul că au ca zi sfântă sâmbăta și nu, ca alți creștini, duminica. Își au originea în mișcarea milenaristă a milleriților.
  4. Martorii lui Iehova – poate cei mai vizibili dintre neoprotestanți, sunt cunoscuți pentru că umblă din ușă în ușă cu revistele „Treziți-vă!” și „Turnul de Veghe”, pentru că îi spun Iehova divinității supreme și pentru faptul că sunt împotriva transfuziilor de sânge.
  5. Creștinii după Evanghelie – sunt ceea ce în engleză se numesc Plymouth Brethren, un cult apărut în Irlanda secolului al XIX-lea. N-au pastori plătiți, și au o organizare ecleziastică foarte descentrată, fără ierarhie.
  6. Biserica Evanghelică din România – poate cea mai interesantă dintre culte, dat fiind faptul că este unul în întregime autohton, desprinsă din ortodoxie, și nu din originară din catolicism, precum celelalte. Cea mai cunoscută personalitate a acestui cult este Dumitru Cornilescu, a cărui traducere a Bibliei este folosită de majoritatea protestanților români.

Date: Recensământ 2011. Realizat în QGIS și Inkscape