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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kurdistan Votes to Leave Iraq: What Happens Next?

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

Map of Iraq and Kurdistan's place within it, published in advance of the 2017 Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum. Includes disputed territories and territorial control as of July 30, 2017. Colorblind accessible.
Residents of Iraqi Kurdistan voted Monday in a controversial referendum on whether to declare independence from Iraq, with preliminary results showing almost 92% in favor of separation. We're still waiting for (hopefully) detailed official results so we can map out how different districts voted. But in the meantime, let's answer some of the big questions:

Will Kurdistan become independent now?

The Kurdistan region's government considers this vote official and "binding", in contrast to an informal 2005 referendum, even though the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad considers it completely illegal. But it was never intended to trigger an automatic declaration of independence.

Instead, Kurdistan leader Masoud Barzani has promised to use a "YES" vote as leverage to negotiate independence with Iraqi government. So far, no date has been set for Kurdistan's declaration of independence, and it could still be years away.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Referendum 2017: Iraqi Kurdistan Map

Two of the world's autonomous regions are about to vote in controversial independence referendums. Iraqi Kurdistan decides on independence from Iraq this Monday, and on October 1 Catalonia plans to vote on leaving Spain. PolGeoNow will be covering these events with a series of articles, but in the meantime we couldn't wait to share our new Iraqi Kurdistan map with you!

Map of Iraq and Kurdistan's place within it, published in advance of the 2017 Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum. Includes disputed territories and territorial control as of July 30, 2017. Colorblind accessible.
Graphic by Evan Centanni and Djordje Djukic, incorporating base map by Koen Adams of All rights reserved.

Iraqi Kurdistan Independence Referendum

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan for short) is just part of the traditional homeland of the Kurds, the Middle East's fourth-largest ethnic group after Arabs, Persians, and Turks.

Many Kurds also live in Turkey, Syria, and Iran. But Iraqi Kurdistan is where they have the most legal rights, governing themselves in what's internationally recognized as an autonomous region within Iraq.

But all's not well in Kurdistan-Iraq relations. Iraqi Kurds suffered through horrific violence and persecution in the 1980s and 90s, and now the region's top politician has staked his reputation on separating Kurdistan from Iraq permanently.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Brexit Matters: 5 Things That Might Change When Britain Leaves the EU

By Bryn Jansson

Map of the European Union, including all member countries, official candidate countries, and potential candidate countries, as 2017 (colorblind accessible).
Map of current and future EU member countries

Brexit Process Finally Begins

The United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) began formal divorce negotiations in Brussels last Monday, June 19, starting a 21-month sprint to the March 2019 Brexit deadline. ("Brexit" is short for "British Exit" from the EU, since "Britain" is another name for the UK.)

UK voters’ surprise choice to leave the EU happened exactly a year ago, on June 23, 2016 - but it didn’t automatically trigger the two-year countdown clock on exit negotiations necessary for departure under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

Friday, June 24, 2016

UK Votes to Quit EU: Map of How Britain Voted in the Brexit Referendum

By Evan Centanni

UK Brexit vote map: Map of election results in Britain's June 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union (EU). Continuous red-to-blue color scheme gives a more honest depiction of the similarities between different election districts. Colorblind accessible.
Map of election results in the UK's "Brexit" referendum. Modified by Evan Centanni from Wikimedia map by Mirrorme22, Nilfanion, TUBS, and Sting (CC BY-SA).

Brexit by Constituency

The results are in for yesterday's referendum on UK membership in the European Union, and the winner is "Leave". Brits voted by a margin of 52% to 48% in favor of exiting the European Union, making a "Brexit" (British exit from the EU) more or less guaranteed in the coming years. Britain will become the first member country ever to leave the EU, and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is expected to get pulled out with it.

Learn More: Brexit: 9 Geography Facts You Should Know About the Referendum and Britain's EU Membership

Who Voted to Stay

Voter tendencies varied a lot from place to place. Support for the "Remain" side was strong across Scotland, culturally Irish parts of Northern Ireland, the London area, and a handful of other cities in England (led by Cambridge, Oxford, and Brighton).

By far the greatest show of support for Remain was a win by 96% in Gibraltar - which isn't even in the UK proper, but got to vote because of its unique status as a British external territory that's in the EU.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Brexit: 9 Geography Facts You Should Know About the Referendum and Britain's EU Membership

(Subscribers click here to view this article in the members area.)

By Evan Centanni 

The European Union. Click for full map and list of members.
Today the UK is voting on whether to leave the European Union. If you've been paying attention to the news, you've probably heard about the intense debate over whether Brits should vote "Leave" or "Remain". But if you're like me and mainly in this for the geography trivia, here are some fun facts you might not know about the so-called "Brexit":

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On the Ground: Gibraltar and the "Brexit" Referendum

This is the first installment of PolGeoNow's On the Ground, a new series of exclusive photo essays on what political geography looks like in the real world. Whether it's borders, nationalism, or other geopolitical phenomena, we'll bring the on-the-ground situations to your screen in vivid detail.

Update 2016-06-24: Gibraltar on Thursday voted in favor of the UK staying in the European Union, by an incredible margin of  96% to 4%. However, the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU, meaning that Gibraltar can expect to get pulled out with it, against the wishes of the Gibraltarians.
Photo of the Gibraltar Stronger in Europe campaign office on the British territory's main street. Gibraltar's population is overwhelmingly against a so-called Brexit, or departure of the UK from the European Union.
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Map of Gibraltar and its location in Europe relative to the UK and Spain
Right: Map of Gibraltar by Eric Gaba (source; CC BY-SA)
Left: Gibraltar's location in Europe (based on this Wikimedia Commons map by TUBS; CC BY-SA)
Gibraltar prepares to vote on whether UK should leave European Union
Last month, PolGeoNow's Evan Centanni and Meihsing Kuo visited the small British territory of Gibraltar (pronounced "jih-BRALL-ter"), one month ahead of the UK's referendum on whether to leave or remain in the European Union (EU).

Gibraltar, a tiny peninsula connected to Spain - and claimed by the Spanish government - is the only British overseas territory that's part of the EU. It's also the only external territory whose residents are eligible to vote in the so-called "Brexit" referendum without living in the UK proper. ("Brexit" is an abbreviation for "British exit" from the EU.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Ever Happened with New Zealand's Flag Referendum?

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The proposed new flag: "Silver Fern (Black, White, and Blue)" by Kyle Lockwood (CC BY 3.0 nz)
Referendum Complete
PolGeoNow readers might remember that New Zealand's vote on whether to change its national flag was scheduled to continue until late March 24. So how did it turn out?

Preliminary results were released on March 24, with detailed final results coming out six days later. The answer: New Zealanders voted "NO" on changing their country's flag to the proposed "Silver Fern" design, by a margin of 57% to 43%.

Visual comparison of the very similar current flags of Australia and New Zealand
Current flags of New Zealand (top) and Australia (bottom)
The result is that New Zealand will keep the same flag it's been using since 1902. Even though this design is confusingly similar to the Australian flag, and even though many New Zealanders liked the idea of a flag change, the government didn't suggest any designs that were popular enough to get a majority of voters behind them.

If you're curious how each part of New Zealand voted, you can see a color-coded summary and map of the results on Wikipedia. Be be aware that the blue just represents regions that voted just over 50% in favor of changing the flag: No area had more than 52% of voters supporting the Silver Fern, and some of the red-coded areas also had almost 50% support for the change.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About New Zealand's Flag Referendum

Current flags of New Zealand (source) and Australia (source) are in the public domain.

Friday, November 20, 2015

New Zealand Voting on New Flag Design

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Updated 2015-12-16: Continue to the bottom of the article for the results of the flag referendum!

Graphic illustrating the five flag designs up for a vote in New Zealand's November-December 2015 flag referendum: Silver Fern (Black and White), Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue), Silver Fern (Black, White, and Blue), Koru (black), and First to the Light (Red Peak)
The five options for a new flag of New Zealand. Clockwise from top left: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood; Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood; Koru (Black) by Andrew Fyfe; Silver Fern (Black and White) by Alofi Kanter; and Red Peak by Aaron Dustin. More information in article below. License: CC BY 3.0 nz

By Evan Centanni

A New Flag For New Zealand?
For decades, New Zealand has debated whether to change its flag, and now the country is finally putting the matter to a vote. A controversial initiative of Prime Minister John Key, the referendum officially began today, November 20. Over the coming three weeks, New Zealanders will choose their favorite from five contending flag designs. A final vote on whether to adopt the winner or stay with the old flag will happen next March. New Zealand's current flag has been in place since 1902, nearly fifty years before the country became fully independent from the UK. Its top left corner is occupied by the so-called "Union Jack", which is still the flag of the UK today.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maps of How Scotland's Regions Really Voted

Good geographers know that maps can lie to you. Every map emphasizes some aspects of a place at the expense of others, giving it a lot of power to lead careless readers astray. Maps of Scotland's recent independence referendum are misleading us about the reality, even if not intentionally.

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Map of results in Scotland's September 18, 2014 independence referendum. Voters were polled on whether or not to separate from the UK. Map shows relative proportion of yes and no votes for each of Scotland's council areas, using a gradient rather than contrasting colors for small differences.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on blank map by TUBS and NordNordWest (CC BY-SA)
By Evan Centanni

Misleading Maps
By now you've probably heard the results of Scotland's independence referendum: voters chose "no" by a solid margin of 55% to 45%. Check out our previous article to learn more about what would have happened if Scotland had voted "yes".

Maps like this one from the BBC and this one from Wikipedia have popped up since the results came out, showing how each of Scotland's council areas voted. Most of the country is in red for "no", with a few "yes" areas in green.

But if one area went 51% for "yes", and another 51% for "no", those two areas actually voted almost identically - yet contrasting red/green maps make us feel like they're polar opposites (not to mention that one-in-thirty readers has trouble seeing the difference between red and green).

How the Councils Really Voted
Whether each area's people voted just over or just under 50% in favor isn't actually that important. What matters is how far the balance was tipped in each region. This is not the U.S. presidential election, where the final vote is actually made by delegates obligated to go by the majority in each state. All the votes across Scotland were pooled together to determine the result, so which side of the 50-yard line each area came out on has no effect .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scottish Independence Poll: What is Scotland, and What Will Happen if it Votes to Leave the UK?

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Map of Scotland. On September 18, 2014, Scotland will vote on whether to leave the UK and become an independent country.
Map of Scotland by Eric Gaba (source). License: CC BY-SA
By Evan Centanni

Scotland's Independence Vote

On Thursday (September 18), residents of Scotland will vote in a referendum on whether to leave the United Kingdom (UK). But is Scotland a country already? What will happen if voters choose "yes" in the referendum? And what other changes would this bring to Scotland and the UK's political geography? Read on for the answers to these questions and more!

Crash Course: History of Scotland

Scotland is the name of the northern third of Great Britain, the main island of the UK, which is shared with England to the south and Wales to the southwest. It originated as the Kingdom of Alba, an independent Celtic country that was unified around the year 900.

It remained an independent kingdom throughout the Middle Ages, gradually absorbing Anglo-Saxon culture from the south until it came to be ruled by English-speaking monarchs, who called it "Scots" or "Scotland" after the Latin name for the Gaels, the predominant Celtic people of the region.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crimea Declares Independence: Is It Really a Country?

On Monday, two regional governments on the Crimean Peninsula controversially declared their independence from Ukraine as the new Republic of Crimea. While the declaration has been rejected by most of the world community, and Crimea hopes to swiftly unite with Russia, for now it might be considered a de facto sovereign state. Read on for details.

Map of the newly declared independent Republic of Crimea, seceding from Ukraine to join Russia (colorblind accessible).
The Republic of Crimea. Map by Evan Centanni, based on this blank map.
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By Evan Centanni

Declaration of Independence
Following Ukraine's revolution, the explosion of pro-Russian protests in the east, and the subsequent occupation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian forces (see our premium report, Ukraine Map: Occupations, Autonomy, & Invasion), a new independent country has been declared on the coast of the Black Sea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Puerto Rico: 51st State of the U.S.?

[This article was written after Puerto Rico's 2012 status referendum. In June 2017, Puerto Rico voted in another controversial referendum, again technically in favor of statehood. Most of this five-year-old article is still accurate after the 2017 vote. -Editor]

Earlier this month, papers reported that Puerto Rico had voted to become a state of the U.S. - but will it really happen? What does it take to become a state, anyway? Last time, we explained Puerto Rico's current status - now for answers about the territory's future....

Flag of the United States with a new star added (total of 51 stars) for a hypothetical new state of Puerto Rico
A possible 51-star U.S. flag. Since each star on the flag represents one state, a new one would need to be added for Puerto Rico (public domain; source).
Why would Puerto Rico want to become a state?
Puerto Rico's current situation leaves it disadvantaged compared to the states. It has its own constitution and government, but the laws establishing them are subject to approval by the U.S. Congress. And despite the fact that most federal taxes and other laws apply to Puerto Ricans, residents have no real representation in Congress and no say in the presidential election. (For more details, see What is Puerto Rico?)