Project description

An analysis of the German federal elections since reunification shows in which of the circa 11,000 municipalities in Germany the parties always achieve their best results – and which factors characterise these heartlands.

The enduring heartlands of the parties represented in the Bundestag are coloured on the map with each party’s traditional colour. A tooltip shows the election results for every federal election in the respective municipality since 1990. In addition, the number one municipality for each party over the years is provided with some brief informative text.

In addition to the map, a second set of graphics details seven socioeconomic characteristics that distinguish these heartlands and compares these with the average values across Germany:

– Settlement structure (number of villages, towns, large towns, and cities)
– Average monthly income
– Unemployment rate
– Church membership
– Percentage of foreigners
– Average age
– Crime (break-ins per 100,000 residents)

What makes this project innovative?

The names of many municipalities where the parties have their core voters were, up to now, not widely known. Our process determines, for the first time, the respective top 100 enduring party heartlands that have existed since reunification. The analysis of the socioeconomic data from the heartlands also helps to characterize the parties.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

In the run-up to the 2017 German federal election campaign, the application accompanied election reporting, both online and in the print edition (including a print version of the map). The map clearly illustrates the differences that still exist between the former East and former West, but also shows a North-South disparity in party preferences. The smaller parties were particularly noticeable in this respect.

Source and methodology

The application analyses party voting since 1990, as conducted in the polling stations of the circa 11,000 municipalities in Germany. This data for this comes from the Federal Election Commissioner, and has been converted by us to fit the current municipalities. For each party, we looked at the 500 municipalities across all election years with the strongest results, and narrowed this down to the top 100 “heartlands”. To do this, we calculated in which of the top categories (e.g., top 10, top 100) each of the circa 11,000 municipalities were, by looking at their lowest ranking over the election years analysed. To use the example of the SPD heartland of Kundert in Rhineland-Palatinate: In party voting from 1990 to 2013, the municipality was ranked at least sixth for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in each and every election year. As no other municipality had a higher lowest rank for the SPD, Kundert is considered the top SPD heartland.

Technologies Used

Leaflet / Mapnik, d3.js, React.js, and Statistics with R

Project members

Julius Tröger, André Pätzold, Marie-Louise Timcke, Moritz Klack, David Wendler, Christopher Möller


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