Look at the Elections

18 October 2015

On October 18, 2015, Swiss voters elect a new Parliament for the next four years.

snip_201510181systemSource: https://www.bk.admin.ch/

More about Swiss elections here

For the National Council (200 members), 3,802 candidates and more than 22 political parties take part.

And the winners are …

The polling stations closed at 12 AM. The results arrive canton by canton and are presented in an interactive visualisation – minute by minute.


Results as of 5 PM

By clicking one of the symbols, the details for a canton appear.


The results are updated in a database, and a script generates a visualisation on the spot. An easy way to follow the elections!

It’s the Statistical Atlas of the Federal Statistical Office that enables this presentation. And it’s no longer Adobe Flash needed to do it ;-).

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 …





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



100 Years

Comparing statistical visualizations over a period of 100 years is quite rare. The newly published Atlas of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office offers just this possibility.


100 years ago Statistics Switzerland published a Graphic-Statistical Atlas. It was a wonderful visualization of dozens of topics and developments. All the diagrams and maps were hand-made and of superb quality.



In order to honor this great work, Statistics Switzerland did it again. A facsimile of the old Atlas is now accompanied by quite the same diagrams and maps but filled wth data from our century. With this technique, a visual overview of changes during the last century becomes possible and gives fascinating insights.


The Atlas is available in Geman and French at http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/news/publikationen.html?publicationID=6327


1901-1910 original visualization


2001-2010 updated visualization



1901-1910 original visualization


2001-2010 updated visualization


Open Data Index

There are lots of indexes.
The most famous one may be the  Index Librorum Prohibitorum  listing books prohibited by the cathoilic church. It contained eminent scientists and intellectuals (see the list in Wikipedia) and was abolished after more than 400 years in 1966 only.

Open Data Index

One index everybody would like to be registered in and this with a high rank is the Open Data Index.

‘An increasing number of governments have committed to open up data, but how much key information is actually being released? …. Which countries are the most advanced and which are lagging in relation to open data? The Open Data Index has been developed to help answer such questions by collecting and presenting information on the state of open data around the world – to ignite discussions between citizens and governments.’


‘The Open Data Index is an initiative of the Open Knowledge Foundation based on contributions from open data advocates and experts around the world. …. The Open Data Index is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation with participation from many different groups and individuals. The Open Data Census, upon which the Open Data Index is based, was launched in April 2012 to coincide with the OGP meeting in Brasilia.’
See also https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/open-data-census/

‘The 2013 Open Data Index launches just before the Open Government Partnership summit in London, at a time when governments and civil society meet to make commitments, monitor progress, and plan for greater open government and transparency around the world.’ (more).

Country Comparison



Country Details: Switzerland



What criteria matters in the assessment of the datasets?’

‘When submitting a dataset, there is a list of questions to answer about the availability and openness of the datasets. These answers appear in the Country overview page for each country:

Question Details Weighting
Does the data exist? Does the data exist at all? The data can be in any form (paper or digital, offline or online etc). If it is not, then all the other questions are not answered. 5
Is data in digital form? This question addresses whether the data is in digital form (stored on computers or digital storage) or if it only in, for example, paper form. 5
Publicly available? This question addresses whether the data is “public”. This does not require it to be freely available, but does require that someone outside of the government can access it in some form (examples include if the data is available for purchase, if it exist as PDFs on a website that you can access, if you can get it in paper form – then it is public). If a freedom of information request or similar is needed to access the data, it is not considered public. 5
Is the data available for free? This question addresses whether the data is available for free or if there is a charge. If there is a charge, then that is stated in the comments section. 15
Is the data available online? This question addresses whether the data is available online from an official source. In the cases that this is answered with a ‘yes’, then the link is put in the URL field below. 5
Is the data machine readable? Data is machine readable if it is in a format that can be easily processed by a computer. Data can be digital but not machine readable. For example, consider a PDF document containing tables of data. These are definitely digital but are not machine-readable because a computer would struggle to access the tabular information (even though they are very human readable!). The equivalent tables in a format such as a spreadsheet would be machine readable. Note: The appropriate machine readable format may vary by type of data – so, for example, machine readable formats for geographic data may be different than for tabular data. In general, HTML and PDF are not machine-readable. 15
Available in bulk? Data is available in bulk if the whole dataset can be downloaded or accessed easily. Conversely it is considered non-bulk if the citizens are limited to just getting parts of the dataset (for example, if restricted to querying a web form and retrieving a few results at a time from a very large database). 10
Openly licensed? This question addresses whether the dataset is open as per http://opendefinition.org. It needs to state the terms of use or license that allow anyone to freely use, reuse or redistribute the data (subject at most to attribution or sharealike requirements). It is vital that a licence is available (if there’s no licence, the data is not openly licensed). Open Licences which meet the requirements of the Open Definition are listed at http://opendefinition.org/licenses/. 30
Is the data provided on a timely and up-to-date basis? This question addresses whether the data is up-to-date and timely – or long delayed. For example, is election data made available immediately or soon after the election, or is it only available many years later? Any comments around uncertainty are put in the comments field. 10
URL of data online? The link to the specific dataset if that is possible. Otherwise to the home page for the data. If that is not possible, then the link to main page of site on which the data is located. Only links to official sites are eligible, not third party sites. When it is necessary for submitters to provide third party links, then they are put in the comments section.
Date the data became available? This question describes when the data first became openly available (online, in digital form, openly licensed etc). Sometimes this is approximate. For example, “2012” or “Jan 2012”. If there is a precise date, then they are typed in in a yyyy-mm-dd format.
If the data is not open, then this question will instead describe the date the data first became available at all. (Note: some open data will have been available in other forms previously, so the date specified here is the date it became openly available).
Format of data? This question describes the form that the data is available in. For example, for tabular data it might be: Excel, CSV, HTML or even PDF. For geodata it might be shapefiles, geojson or something else. If available in multiple formats, the format descriptors are listed separated with commas. Any further information is put in the comments section.’

For Switzerland Timetables (of major government operated (or commissioned) *national-level* public transport services (specifically bus and train))
and National government budget (at a high level (e.g. spending by sector, department etc)) are less open.
Data from swisstopo and Statistics Switzerland (partially thanks to the new opendata.admin.ch/ portal) have most criteria in green, the main question lies in licensing (not freely available, not free for commercial use).


Featured Visualisation: An example how to present Open Data

NYC Open Data Site Finder
This interactive graphic, inspired by Chris Whong’s d3.js network diagram, allows users to access every link in the NYC Open Data site. Hover over a circle in the packed bubble chart to see link info, and click on a circle to access the site in a new browser tab. Use the bar charts and filters to focus your view.’


OGD: Oil, Gold, Democracy ?!

Open Government Data (OGD) are seen by many people as the new gold of the digital age. So Neelie Kroes (Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda Data) in her Opening Remarks at the Press Conference on Open Data Strategy in Brussels, 12th December 2011:

“Just as oil was likened to black gold, data takes on a new importance and value in the digital age. … Public data, generated by all administrations in Europe will become automatically re-usable. It will feed new applications and services. … We calculate that public sector information already generates €32 billion of economic activity each year. This package would more than double that – – to around €70 billion.”

OGD Portal

Since September 16th 2013 Switzerland has its Open Government Data Portal, too. It’s based on CKAN and is filled with about 1600 files, mostly statistical data.


OGD: Economic Impact

And Switzerland has its own report (by Adelheid Bürgi-Schmelz ) assessing the economic importance and impact of OGD. It’s a broad evaluation of methods and results (in German) with a long summary in English:

From an economic perspective, Switzerland would benefit from an introduction of OGD. The Swiss federal administration would obtain efficiency gains provided the compensation issue for federal offices can be settled. But ultimately, the issue whether OGD should be introduced in Switzerland is subject to political decision making.’ (p.14)  “Information is the currency of democracy.” Thomas Jefferson (p.8)



Ex post?

Are the now published data by several governments the data needed? What’s their impact after first evaluations?
These questions are more and more of interest. And governments are starting initiatives to ‘sell’ open data with specific actions. So the White House in January 2013 with its showcasing the best government data sources (and here):

‘We at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy ‘had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled’.



Evaluation by ODI ?


The website of the Open Data Institute in London provides some information about how open data are used. An interesting guest blog shows the situation on the local level.

And a press release of ODI (December 2012) gives an example in the field of prescribing practices:


‘…. This project is an example of how open data can be used to help services run more effectively and efficiently. In using open data to highlight trends, we see where we can do better and make improvements. Inefficiency in any system often results from poor or incomplete information about the overall picture. This is something that open data can address as Prescribing Analytics so dramatically illustrates. The analysis should be required reading for all GPs as they seek to make best use of their resources. …’. (ODI’s Chairman, Nigel Shadbolt).

To do

These are just some examples of evaluation work. It’s a fascinating and important work to be done in this field. And it’s worth to be done systematically.

See also https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/open-data-literacy/

When Luca meets Laura

How to explain important demographic indicators? Try it by telling the story of Laura and Luca. Statistical storytelling at its best!

“From the first breath of life until death, the road of life in Switzerland (and not only here) is strewn with an abundance of data averages from official statistics.
For the past ten years, an average 75,700 babies have been born annually in Switzerland, the majority of whom are boys: 106 boys to 100 girls. His name is Luca. As with most other children, this little boy will grow up in a couple with child(ren), go to school and move on to new horizons. On reaching adolescence he will have to be careful, however. Surveys show that young men aged 15 to 24 years have constituted for a number of years the group at greatest risk of death among persons under 25 years of age. …….
…… Then, around the age of 32, and as for almost two-thirds of Swiss nationals, Luca will join the group of people who have the opportunity to get married, completing the list of 40,700 marriages registered each year in Switzerland. Her name will be Laura. She will be approximately 29 years old when she says “I do” to Luca……..
……… Laura and Luca’s marriage will probably go through some rough times, in particular towards the 6th and 7th year of marriage, a difficult milestone for many couples who often decide to get divorced at this moment. Their marriage will in fact last an average of 15.5 years.” ……………………..
………. Read the full article written by Fabienne Rausa (FSO) here and the magazine ValueS here