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The Political Regions of Europe and the Fallacy of Environmental Determinism

By Martin W. Lewis | November 8, 2015 | 13 Comments

GeoCurrents reader Rafael Ferrero-Aprato recently brought to my attention an interesting map of political divisions in Europe made by the Dutch electoral geographer Josse de Voogd and reproduced by The Economist in 2014. Josse de Voogd notes the difficulties and limitations in making a map of this sort: “Some countries [are covered] in much greater detail than others and there …

Scolbert08’s Magnificent Map of World Religion, Part 1

By Martin W. Lewis | October 27, 2015 | 5 Comments

An astoundingly detailed map of world religion has recently been published by reddit user “scolbert08.” The map is much too large for me to post in its entirely on GeoCurrents, but one can find the full-resolution map both here and at the interesting website Brilliant Maps. The level of precision found on this map is truly remarkable; over much of the …

Valencia and the Països Catalans Controversy

By Martin W. Lewis | October 13, 2015 | 7 Comments

Five days before the recent regional elections in Catalonia, the Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, gained attention and generated controversy by urging Catholics to “pray for Spain and her unity” while also arguing that “Spain is bleeding out” and that “there is no moral justification for secession.” It is not surprising that such sentiments would be voiced by the Archbishop …

Val d’Aran: The Catalonian Exception

By Martin W. Lewis | October 9, 2015 | 3 Comments

As the previous post noted, the rural areas of Catalonia generally supported pro-independence political parties in the 2015 regional election, whereas most urban areas did not. There are, however, several exceptions to his generalization. The most striking one is the comarca (“county”) of Val d’Aran, located in the extreme northwestern portion of Catalonia. With a population of 9,993 scattered over …

The Rural/Urban Divide in Catalonia’s 2015 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 7, 2015 | 16 Comments

According to most media sources, the Catalan independence movement scored a major victory in the September 28 regional election, taking 72 out of 135 seats in Catalonia’s parliament (Parlament de Catalunya). More careful reporting, however, noted that the results were actually mixed. In terms of the popular vote, candidates advocating independence gained the support of less than half of the …

Poland’s Stark Electoral Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | July 15, 2015 | 14 Comments

Some observers were surprised by the triumph of conservative candidate Andrzej Duda over incumbent Bronisław Komorowski in Poland’s May 2015 presidential election. Duda’s margin of victory, however, was thin: 51.5 percent of the vote against Komorowski’s 48.5 percent. As is typical of Polish elections, the results were geographically patterned in a stark manner. Duda, like most conservative candidates, won almost …

2015 UK Election Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | May 20, 2015 | 2 Comments

Yet again, teaching duties are preventing me from making regular posts: last night’s lecture on the 2015 UK election required 155 slides. Those slides are available here, at the link.
I made only one original map for the lecture, which juxtaposes the main labour-voting areas of England and Wales with per capita GDP.
UK 2015 Election Slides

Lecture Slides on the Mediterranean Migration Crisis

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2015 |

Dear Readers,
Yet again, other obligations have prevented me from making regular GeoCurrents posts. Most of my recent time has been devoted to preparing lectures for my course on the History and Geography of Current Global Events. This week’s talk was on the Mediterranean Migration Crisis; the lecture slides are available at the link below (“MediterraneanMigration”). The remainder of this post …

Geopolitical Anomalies in the “Greater Middle East,” Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | April 2, 2015 | 9 Comments

(Note: The introduction to this post is found in the previous post, that of April 1))
A detail from the Wikipedia map of United Nations members, discussed in the previous post, shows only one non-member in the region that we might crudely dub the “greater Middle East,” which is the focus of today’s post. That non-member is the Palestinian territory, composed …

Misleading Statistics: The Case of Luxembourg, by Will Rayner

By Martin W. Lewis | September 16, 2014 | 5 Comments

(Note: This post is by Will Rayner, a former student of mine who graduated from Stanford University last year.)
Statistics can be misleading, particularly in regard to international country-by-country comparisons. We all know that. And yet governments, institutions, and corporations rely on these statistics every day.
GDP per capita—just to pick an example—is often used as shorthand for a country’s level of …

Everyone Has a Role to Play: Farce and Politics in France

By Claire Negiar | April 23, 2014 | 7 Comments

If you want to have a good laugh this week, I would suggest diving into the bountiful sea of articles on French politicians’ recent missteps. I will start my overview of recent political stumbling with the right-wing National Front before turning to France’s other parties.
The top of the hit parade features Marine Le Pen.  For all the Front National’s attempts …

Cyprus: Between East and West?

By Claire Negiar | April 10, 2014 | 14 Comments

(Note: This is the second of two articles by Stanford student Claire Negiar that together contrast the situations of two geopolitically divided islands: Saint Martin and Cyprus)
Cyprus and Saint Martin – two very different islands sharing one key property: both are split by their “mother countries,” Greece and Turkey in the case of Cyprus, France and the Netherlands in the …

Geographical Patterns in the German Federal Election of 2013

By Martin W. Lewis | September 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Geographical Patterns in the German Federal Election of 2013

The recent German federal election has been widely heralded as a major victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union party (along with its regional sister party, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria). Taking almost 42 percent of the vote and nearly half of the seats in the Bundestag, Merkel’s center-right party had its best showing in almost …

Explaining the Rapid Rise of the Xenophobic Right in Contemporary Europe

By James Mayfield | July 22, 2013 | 258 Comments
Copyright James Mayfield

The last three decades have witnessed a remarkable rise in xenophobic, deeply conservative, and even extreme right-wing parties across much of Europe. Whereas thirty years ago most xenophobic parties failed to even pass the 5% minimum voter threshold that is typically required to enter government, they now constitute as much as ~28% of the parliament in countries like Austria, and arguably have reached the ~70% level in Hungary. Hoping to understand these surprising changes in the European political climate, this post will briefly analyze the characteristics of the xenophobic right as of 2013, underscore the diversity of xenophobic parties, and try to explain some of the patterns encountered when the far-right takes hold, as well as their exceptions.

Misleading Murder and Rape Maps, and the Sweden Rape Puzzle

By Martin W. Lewis | May 25, 2013 | 15 Comments

The previous post on murder rates in Brazil featured a Wikipedia map of homicide rate by country, based on a 2011 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That map, reproduced here, is less than ideal, as its highest category lumps together countries with hugely different homicide rates, ranging from 20.1 per 100,000 in Kyrgyzstan to …

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