Showing posts with label referendums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label referendums. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2021

US State of Mississippi Adopts New Flag

The new official flag of the US state of Mississippi, approved in a popular referendum on November 3, 2020 and formally adopted January 11, 2021. Features a white magnolia flower on a dark blue background, surrounded by 20 white stars topped with a golden star-like symbol. The left and right sides of the flag are red, separated from the blue center by thin golden borders.
Mississippi's new flag, officially adopted January 11, 2021 (public domain graphic).

50 State Flags Again

For the first time since last June, every one of the US's 50 states has its own flag. Last year, Mississippi became the only flagless state after its government voted to withdraw its former banner, controversial for incorporating the battle emblem of 19th Century pro-slavery separatists.

USA: Rhode Island State's Name Change

Map of the State of Rhode Island - formerly the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - from the United States National Atlas
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The island hosting Newport (lower right) is the original "Rhode Island", while "Providence Plantations" referred to the mainland area around Providence (top right). (Public domain map)

Rhode Island Name Change Now in Effect

Tiny Rhode Island has become the first of the 50 US states ever to change its name.

Even many Americans don't realize that Rhode, Island, the smallest US state by area, actually had a longer official name until last year: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 

But in a referendum on Nov. 3, the same day as the 2020 US presidential election, the state's voters chose to amend the state constitution and shorten the name to just "State of Rhode Island". 

Monday, November 2, 2020

3 Election Day Referendums that Could Change US Geography (Updated with Results)

Update: All three referendums passed, and as of January 2021 the results of two have gone into effect. Scroll down to the bottom of each section for details of what happened.

Map of the United States, showing the 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC)
The US has 50 states...for now. (Map from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA)
 

US Voters to Decide in Geography-related Referendums

This Tuesday - November 3, 2020 - is election day in the United States. And while presidential rivals Donald Trump and Joe Biden have dominated the news, Americans will also be voting (or have already voted) in thousands of other elections for national, state, and local politicians, plus referendums on state and local issues.

The US has no process for nationwide referendums, but statewide referendums - often known as "ballot measures", "propositions", or just "questions" - are common. They also exist at many lower levels of government, and in territories that aren't part of any state, like the national capital district and overseas dependencies. This Tuesday, there will be 120 statewide referendums, all held within 32 of the country's 50 states, plus 3 referendums at the top level of government for other territories.

While most of these votes are on issues like taxation, election rules, and drug laws, three are of special interest to geography fans:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Puerto Rico: 52nd State of the US? (2020 Referendum - Updated with Results)

In 2012, we reported on Puerto Rico's chances at becoming the a state of the US, after the territory's people sort of voted for that. This is an updated and expanded version of that article, fully revised for next week's new Puerto Rico statehood referendum. 

Continue reading to learn why this time might be different, and why Puerto Rico could become the 52nd state of the US instead of the 51st!

For updates on the results of the referendum, scroll to the bottom of this article.


Puerto Rico Statehood Vote: Different This Time

The US territory of Puerto Rico. (Public domain map from CIA World Factbook)

The US territory of Puerto Rico, made up of one large island and several smaller ones in the Caribbean, doesn't have any say in next week's US presidential election. 

But its people will still have something important to vote on next Tuesday: a referendum on whether to fully join the US as one of the country's states. 

Like in previous votes, the result is non-binding: It can only take effect if approved by the US government. But that doesn't mean it's just a symbolic move.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

New Caledonia Turns Down Independence Again

This is a follow-up to our article on New Caledonia's 2020 referendum on independence from France. For more on New Caledonia's current status and what would have happened if the vote had passed, see that article.

The islands of New Caledonia, and their location in the South Pacific. Map by NormanEinstein (CC BY-SA; source)
The results are in for Sunday's independence referendum in New Caledonia and, as in 2018, the majority has voted against seceding from France.

However, the proportion of YES and NO votes wasn't the same as two years ago: Support for independence rose from 43% in 2018 to 47% this time, suggesting that more residents than ever before want an independent country for their island home. Voter turnout was also even higher than last time, rising from 81% to 85%.

So what happens next? Well, for now New Caledonia will keep its current status as an autonomous region of France. But the islands could still become independent in the coming years.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

New Caledonia Voting on Independence from France: Round Two

Update: For the results of the election, check out our follow up article!

This is an updated version of an article published in November 2018 for that year's independence referendum. It has been revised to address the October 2020 vote, which is a direct follow-up to the one two years ago.

The islands of New Caledonia, and their location in the South Pacific. Map by NormanEinstein (CC BY-SA; source)
Today the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia will vote - again - on whether to declare independence, after a 2018 vote supported remaining part of France.

This referendum and the previous one are the culmination of a 20-year process set in motion by the Nouméa Accord of 1998, when the French government agreed to gradually transfer power to the islands' own institutions.

See Also: Results of the 2018 New Caledonia Independence Vote

New Caledonia is one of two places in the Melanesia region to vote on independence lately, after Bougainville chose independence from Papua New Guinea last December (though it's still uncertain if Bougainville will really become independent).

Saturday, February 8, 2020

How it Happened: A Concise Timeline of Brexit

Map of the European Union, including all member countries, official candidate countries, and potential candidate countries, as of February 2020, updated for Brexit - the departure of the UK and Gibraltar (colorblind accessible). Also file under: Map of European Union Member Countries.

Map by Evan Centanni, from blank map by Ssolbergj. License: CC BY-SA

UK Leaves EU: What Were They Doing All That Time?

Last week, the UK actually left the European Union, in a long-anticipated move called for by a referendum vote in 2016. This British exit, or "Brexit" was never meant to happen in less than two years - by how did it stretch out to almost four?

We've put together a clear and concise timeline summarizing the process, without any of the confusing technical lingo or agonizing political details. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Bougainville Votes to Leave Papua New Guinea

Where is Bougainville island located? Map of Bougainville's location within Papua New Guinea.
Bougainville (in red) is currently part of Papua New Guinea.
(modified from a public-domain UN map)

Independence option wins in Bougainville referendum

Three weeks ago we reported on Bougainville's independence referendum - a non-binding vote on whether to split from Papua New Guinea and become a separate country.

After two weeks of voting, the results are finally in: More than 98% of Bougainvilleans have voted in favor of independence.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ethiopia's Sidama Zone Votes to Become Regional State

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Political map of Ethiopia's regional states, highlighting Sidama Zone, which in November 2019 voted to split off from the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) to become a new regional state.

Sidama Referendum Passes

Last week, we reported on a status referendum in southern Ethiopia, where the Sidama Zone was voting on whether to secede from the country's Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR).

Over the weekend, the Ethiopian government announced that the referendum had passed by a very large margin: According to preliminary results, an enormous 98.5% of voters chose increased self-rule. (Voter turnout was also reported to be extremely high, at 99.8%.)

Ethiopia's government has signaled that it plans to respect the result, making the Sidama Zone into the country's tenth self-governing "regional state". This comes despite warnings that Sidama's promotion will supercharge campaigns for statehood in other regions, which could lead to a cascade of mini-secessions that would shake up Ethiopia's administrative structure and politics.

But the Sidama Zone won't become a state immediately - there will likely be a long, contentious process, which requires an amendment to Ethiopia's constitution. One major issue is that the SNNPR's capital city, Hawassa, is located inside the Sidama Zone. If it's going to become the capital of the Sidama Region instead, then the SNNPR will have to find a new capital and move all its government institutions there.

Sidama will become the second-smallest of the Ethiopia's regional states, after the Harari People's National Regional State (the cities of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa aren't considered regional states, even though they stand separately from the other regions). Its promotion will also create a new state-level exclave - a part of a state that's not connected to the rest of the state - by cutting off the Gedeo Zone to its south from the rest of the SNNPR.

Want to know when these changes actually happen? You'll hear about it here on PolGeoNow!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bougainville Voting on Independence from Papua New Guinea

Update: The results are in! Read our Bougainville referendum update to find out what happened!

Bougainville island and its surroundings could become the world's next independent country (public domain UN map).
This week, voting will begin in a referendum that could lead to the creation of the world's first widely-accepted new country in almost a decade. Bougainville, a group of islands in the South Pacific, will be voting on independence from Papua New Guinea.

Where did this come from? Is the referendum expected to pass? Will Bougainville really become independent? Read on for all the answers!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

New Caledonia Votes NO on Independence

This is a follow-up to Saturday's explainer on New Caledonia's referendum on independence from France. For more on New Caledonia's current status and what would have happened if the vote had passed, see that article.

The islands of New Caledonia, and their location in the South Pacific. Map by NormanEinstein (CC BY-SA; source)
The results are in for yesterday's independence referendum in New Caledonia, and a majority of voters have chosen not to leave France.

However, voter turnout was very high, at about 81%, apparently representing a surge of support for independence: According to preliminary results, the NO vote won by 56% to 44%, a much smaller margin than predicted in any of the opinion polls.

So what happens next? Well, for now New Caledonia will keep its current status as an autonomous region of France (see our pre-referendum explainer for more details on that status). But the islands could still become independent in the coming years.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

New Caledonia Voting on Independence from France

Update: Preliminary results of the referendum are in - check out our follow up article for the details!

The islands of New Caledonia, and their location in the South Pacific. Map by NormanEinstein (CC BY-SA; source)
This Sunday, the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia will vote on whether to declare independence from France. The referendum is the culmination of a 20-year process set in motion by the Nouméa Accord of 1998, when the French government agreed to gradually transfer power to the islands' own institutions.

Have some questions? Great - we've got your answers! Read on for a quick summary of what exactly is going on:

Saturday, October 6, 2018

What Happened in the "North Macedonia" Referendum?

Are there two Macedonias? Where is FYROM located? Where is Macedonia in relation to Greece? Map of Macedonia, including both the controversially-named Republic of Macedonian (FYROM) and the Greek provinces of Macedonia.
Besides the controversially-named Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Greece has three Macedonia provinces too. Contact us for permission to use this map.

Referendum in the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)

Last Sunday, people in Southeastern Europe's Republic of Macedonia - also known as FYROM, an acronym for "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - voted on whether to approve a recent deal signed with Greece.

The deal famously includes changing the country's name to "Republic of North Macedonia", though that's not all it's about.

The question on the ballots was:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Catalonia Declares Independence from Spain: What Now?

This report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting disputed independence votes for Kurdistan in Iraq and Catalonia in Spain, plus less-controversial self-rule referendums in three areas of Italy.

Catalonia and Spain: Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries, including Spanish capital Madrid and Catalan capital Barcelona.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Evan Centanni

Declaration of Catalan Independence

Catalonia, a self-governed region within Spain, has declared an independent "Catalan Republic" nearly a month after holding a controversial independence vote, despite powerful opposition from the Spanish government.

The declaration was made on Friday, October 27, after the region's parliament - elected legally under the Spanish constitution but now defying it - voted 70-10 in favor of independence. Anti-independence parties boycotted the vote, but 70 votes is enough that the motion would have passed either way, since the body has a total of 135 members.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Referendum 2017: Three Autonomy Votes in Italy Today

This report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting votes on the political status of Kurdistan in Iraq, Catalonia in Spain, and now three areas of Italy. However, these latest votes are much different from the controversial ones we've covered in the last month...

Update: All three referendums have passed. In Lombardy, 95% of participating voters favored autonomy, but with only 39% turnout; and in Veneto, autonomy won support from 98% of voters with 57% turnout, meeting the minimum 50% turnout requirement. Nearly 99% of participants in Belluno province supported autonomy within the Veneto region, with 52% turning out to vote.

Veneto and Lombardy referendum: Map of Italy showing which regions already have special forms of autonomy, and which regions are voting on whether to request more autonomy in October 2017, which include the cities of Venice and Milan. Also marks Belluno province, which is holding its own referendum on more autonomy from the Veneto region. Colorblind accessible.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on blank map by TUBS and NordNordWest (Wikimedia Commons). License: CC BY-SA

Where are referendums happening?

Referendums are being conducted today in two of Italy's top level "regions" (something in between a province and a US-style state). Both of them are located in the north of the country: Lombardy, which includes the city of Milan, and Veneto, which includes the city of Venice. These two regions are voting on whether to negotiate increased self-rule with the Italian national government through a framework set out in the constitution.

A third referendum is happening in the province of Belluno, part of the Veneto region, on whether to ask for more self-rule from the regional government in Venice. Belluno is a mountainous province at the northern end of the Veneto region, sharing a border with Austria.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Catalonia Referendum: Detailed Results in 5 Maps

This map report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq last month, and Catalonia tried to vote on leaving Spain on Oct. 1. Now we've mapped out Catalonia's results in detail based on data from the regional government.
 
Catalan referendum 2017 map: Detailed, municipality-level map of results in Catalonia's disputed October 2017 referendum on independence from Spain, showing proportion of YES votes in favor of independence in each municipality. Boundaries of comarques (comarcas) shown. Labels cities of Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, and Girona. Colorblind accessible.

Controversial Independence Vote

On October 1, Spain's autonomous region of Catalonia tried to hold a referendum on independence from Spain. After Spanish courts ruled the vote illegal, Spanish national police attempted to prevent voting, and the result was that voting was disrupted in many areas and not organized properly in most others. Still, Catalan government data states that some 42% of the region's residents came out to vote anyway, and of those who did, about 90% voted in favor of secession. Though Catalonia's president had promised to declare independence within 48 hours of a YES victory, so far he's delayed doing so.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Updated! Catalonia Referendum Results Maps: How Did Each Region Vote?

Updated! This article's maps and text have been updated with final results released by the Catalan government. See below for more details. We also now have an article with detailed results maps broken down by municipality.

This map report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq last week, and Catalonia voted to leave Spain this weekend. Now detailed results are available, and we're working on getting them mapped out.

2017 Catalonia independence referendum results map. This map shows support for independence by region (vegueria) in the October 1 Catalan vote on independence from Spain. Colorblind accessible. 2017 Catalonia independence referendum voter turnout map. This map shows voter turnout by region (vegueria) in the October 1 Catalan vote on independence from Spain. Colorblind accessible.
Maps by Evan Centanni, starting from blank map by Vinals and Rwxrwxrwx. License: CC BY-SA

Catalonia Independence Vote (Updated)

Detailed, final results are now available for Catalonia's controversial referendum on independence from Spain. The vote was widely disrupted by the Spanish police after courts ruled it illegal, resulting in massive irregularities that will make it hard for outsiders to accept as a proper democratic referendum. Still, some 43% of eligible Catalan voters reportedly made it out to cast ballots, meaning there's plenty of reported data to look at.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catalonia Voting on Independence: What Will Happen?

This article is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq this Monday, and Catalonia is about to vote on leaving Spain. 

Update: Check out the bottom of the article for a brief summary of what's actually happened since referendum day!

Catalonia and Spain: Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries, including Spanish capital Madrid and Catalan capital Barcelona.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Evan Centanni

Catalonia Independence Vote

Catalonia, a self-governed region within Spain, is about to start voting on independence in a referendum that Spanish courts have ruled illegal. So what will happen? No one really knows, but we've taken our best shot at answering six of the big questions...

Referendum 2017: What is Catalonia?

This article is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq this Monday, and Catalonia will vote Sunday on leaving Spain. 

The following article is adapted from one originally published in 2013.

Catalonia and Spain: Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries, including Spanish capital Madrid and Catalan capital Barcelona.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Omar Alkhalili, with additional reporting by Evan Centanni

Not Independent Yet: So What is Catalonia Now?

Catalonia is one of the "autonomous communities" of Spain (kind of like a state in the US), and also holds the official status of a "nationality" (but not "nation") within the Spanish system of government. Regions of Spain with this status are considered to be something similar to countries within the larger Spanish nation, allowing for their own separateness from Spanish mainstream culture without actually being independent.