Elections, visual


On October 18, 2015 Swiss voters will elect a new Parliament for the next four years. There are some very useful and also beautiful visual tools that help voters to get informed about developments in the political landscape and about candidates.


Background: The Swiss Political System

2015-10-02_parliamentThe full picture of Switzerland’s political institutions and executive authorities can be found in a yearly updated official brochure (the page above is part of it)

2015-10-02_parliamentcoverSee also the Official Website (Federal elections of 18 October 2015) and:

The website of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), FSO topic: elections (German and French only)




Let’s have a look at some of these visual and interactive tools.


Find Your Candidates

With interactive tools, one answers questions to define one’s position on the political spectrum and to generate suggestions for candidates to vote for.

Tools from smartvote or vimentis exist for the National Council (200 members and 3,802 candidates) and the Council of States (46 members and 161 candidates).

For smartvote about 80 to 90 percent of the candidates have filled in a questionnaire.

2015-10-02_smartvoteThis questionnaire helps defining their political profile, a smartspider.

‘The smartspider presents a political profile based on the agreement about eight topics/aims. A value of 100 represents a strong agreement, a value of 0 a strong disagreement.’

2015-10-02_candidateIn answering the same questionnaire a voter defines his one profile that is matched with the candidates’. In the end, he gets his own smartspider and suggestions for candidates in his constituency. The more questions a voter answers, the more precise his voting advice will be.


Political Shift in Communes 1981 to 2014 – year by year

Lean Swiss communes more towards the left or the right, are they more conservative or progressive?

‘Based on the result of every single popular vote since 1983. The Somoto Research Institute together with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC, swissinfo.ch’s parent company) has used the data to find this out.’ A quite complex interactive visualisation depicts this for types of communes and every single commune.




Party Preferences in the Communes

11 elections (1971 to 2011) for the Swiss National Council show how 2345 communes changed their political preferences during these 40 years. The  SRF Data Team (@srfdata) created a visualisation out of tons of data (in German only)

2015-10-02_GEMEINDENAfter selecting a political party and a commune the map of Switzerland shows how this commune changed its attitude towards the chosen party. Hovering over the map gives the facts of all other communes for the chosen party.

2015-10-02_GEMEINDEN-POSCHIAVO timeline Great!


Interactive Political Atlas

And not to forget the very rich interactive Political Atlas presented by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Elections to the National Council can be found from 1919 (!) to today. And also votations about innumerable topics are shown starting 1866 (!!). Have a look (with flash enabled).



And not enough yet

How did national counselors vote in parliament? (in German, by SRF Data)


Do you like a Quiz … and learn about Swiss political parties?

How well do you know Swiss politics? (by SRF Data)


Forgotten something? Sure! There is so much activity in the visualisation scene in Switzerland …




From Quantity to Quality

Open Data is a much-debated topic and – since the Obama administration launched Data.gov on May 21, 2009 – an international competition, too. Nearly 400 Open-Data Portals emerged meanwhile. But very often there is more concern about the number of published data than about the content of these data.


This issue has been addressed by Open Knowledge (okfn) with its Global Open Data Index (Global Open Data Index). 2015-08-24_OpenDataIndex‘ …simply putting a few spreadsheets online under an open license is obviously not enough. Doing open government data well depends on releasing key datasets in the right way.
Moreover, with the proliferation of sites it has become increasingly hard to track what is happening: which countries, or municipalities, are actually releasing open data and which aren’t? Which countries are releasing data that matters? Which countries are releasing data in the right way and in a timely way?
The Global Open Data Index was created to answer these sorts of questions, providing an up-to-date and reliable guide to the state of global open data for policy-makers, researchers, journalists, activists and citizens.’


The Challenge: Be more than a simple measurement tool

The Open Knowledge Community just started ‘a discussion with the open data community and our partners in civil society to help us determine which datasets are of high social and democratic value and should be assessed in the 2015 Index. We believe that by making the choice of datasets a collaborative decision, we will be able to raise awareness of and start a conversation around the datasets required for the Index to truly become a civil society audit of the open data revolution. – See more at http://blog.okfn.org/2015/08/20/the-2015-global-open-data-index-is-around-the-corner-these-are-the-new-datasets-we-are-adding-to-it/

The result is a list of datasets that can be found on Google docs.


For National Statistics (in okfn’s definition), these are the (few) chosen sets:

‘Key national statistics such as demographic and economic indicators (GDP, unemployment, population, etc).
To satisfy this category, the following minimum criteria must be met:
– GDP for the whole country updated at least quarterly
– Unemployment statistics updated at least monthly
– Population updated at least once a year’

More than just Numbers

The historical research uses statistics since ever.  And Official Statistics are a favourite source for quantitative historiography and digital humanities.

‘Statistics are more than just numbers’

Statistics New Zealand depicts the history of the capital Wellington with a popular format – an infographic.

‘In 1865, following a period of heated debate, an independent tribunal of three Australians selected Wellington to be New Zealand’s capital. Since that time a lot has changed in Wellington and Statistics NZ has been able to follow and track that change through the data it collects.’

How true!: ‘Statistics are more than just numbers, they can chart change, record history, and be a tool for decision making.’ (Source: Stats NZ)




Mid-December 2014 Statistics Switzerland launched its first digital publication for tablets (iOs. Android) and (and!) browser, in French and German. The name for this publishing category is ‘DigiPub‘.


In App Store and Google Play

DigiPubs are provided via the SwissStats App available on Apple Store and Google Play (Windows to come later ).



In the browser 2015-07-17_webviewer.

The challenge: Storytelling in times of tablets

Storytelling in the time of tablets and mobile people performs in a new field.
The idea and the message are old – let‘s call it the book paradigm.
But it‘s a book in new clothes. New aspects must be taken into account: new possibilities, skills, tools and processes.



After evaluation, the choice for a performant and sustainable publishing instrument fell on: .folio, an open format, part of Adobe‘s Digital Publishing Suite DPS.

.folio provides:

  • Standardised navigation
  • Wide range of presentation possibilities
  • Integration of internet content
  • Runs on most platforms, also browsers
  • Publication in the major stores
  • Production based on layout programs, editing systems or web content management systems
  • Open format (ZIP archive with PDF, HTML, XML inside).


 Rethink publication !

Electronic publication offers everything needed to make a story appealing. But this means: Rethink publication!

Authors and also publication specialists (publishers, visualisers, layout designers) are challenged

  • in terms of concept with regard to the content that is to be communicated
  • in terms of the presentation due to the possibilities that the medium is opening up
  • in terms of collaboration with specialists.

New ways of working, processes and also changing job descriptions are the result and necessary.


The Concept

The whole story about choosing and developing DigiPubs is in the following presentation:

2015-02-19_dotfolioDownload presentation (format: Powerpoint): Dotfolio.pptx

Download presentation (format: PDF): dotfolio.pdf



Open, Useful, Reusable

In OECD’s brand new publication ‘Government at a Glance 2015’ we can find a new indicator: The OUR Index. It stands for ‘Open, Useful, Reusable Government Data’.

‘The new OECD OURdata Index reveals that many countries have made progress in making public data more available and accessible, but large variations remain, not least with respect to the quality of data provided. Governments need to make participation initiatives more accessible, targeted, relevant and appealing.’ (p.8)


‘The data come from the 2014 OECD Survey on Open Government Data. Survey respondents were predominantly chief information officers in OECD countries and two candidate countries (Colombia and Latvia). Responses represent countries’ own assessments of current practices and procedures regarding open government data. Data refer only to central/federal governments and exclude open government data practices at the state/local levels.’ (p.150)


Based on G8 recommendations

‘The OECD OURdata Index measures government efforts to implement the G8 Open Data charter based on the availability, accessibility and government support to promote the reuse of data, focusing on the central OGD portal in each country'( p.33)

‘The G8 Open Data Charter defines a series of five principles: 1) open data by default; 2) quality and quantity data; 3) usable by all; 4) releasing data for improved governance and; 5) releasing data for innovation, as well as three collective actions to guide the implementation of those principles.’
‘As a first step in producing a comprehensive measure of the level of implementation of the G8 Open Data Charter, the OECD pilot Index on Open government data assesses governments’ efforts to implement open data in three dimensions:
1. Data availability on the national portal (based on principle 1 and collective action 2);
2. Data accessibility on the national portal (based on principle 3) and
3. Governments’ support to innovative re-use and stakeholder engagement (principle 5).
The only principle not covered in this year’s index is Principle 4: Releasing Data for improved governance value (e.g. transparency) as existing measurement efforts have focused primarily on socio economic value creation’ (p.150)


And here comes the ranking

2015-07-10-OURdataIndexData for this chart: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933249180

Detailed data for the countries: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933249175

The publication

The publication: OECD (2015), Government at a Glance 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2015-en


The Cui-bono Approach to Open Data

What’s the problem? Which data are needed to solve it? Who gets an advantage of it?

These few questions are valuable key for implementing the open data culture. Open data not as ‘l’art pour l’art’ but in a pragmatic approach, demonstrating that the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’.


It seems to work very well as Ton Zijlstra showed in his presentation at the Swiss Opendata Conference 2015.

He gives some examples of situations where open data helped to provide a solution to a problem and where stakeholders got an answer to their issues.


link ti