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Month: December 2012


Philip Tetlock on political forecastingInterview with Pearl on causal inferenceBrian Jones on the possibility for change in American gun (safety) policyFights over evidence in medicineThe Mayan Doomsday’s Effects on Survival Rates

New data source for political science researchers

Political Data Yearbook Interactive is a new source for data on election results, turnout and government composition for all EU and some non-European countries. It is basically an online version of the yearbooks that ECPR printed as part of the European Journal for Political Research for many years now. The interactive online tool has some (limited) visualization options and can export data in several formats.

Music Network Visualization

Note: probably of interest only to the intersection of the readers who are into niche music genres and those interested in network visualization. My music interests have always been rather, hmm…, eclectic. Somehow IDM, ambient, darkwave, triphop, acid jazz, bossa nova, qawali, Mali blues and other more or less obscure genres have managed to happily co-exist in my music collection. The sheer diversity always invited the question whether there is some structure to the collection, or each genre is an island of its own. Sounds like a job for network visualization! Now, there are plenty of music network viz applications on the web. But they don’t show my collection, and just seem unsatisfactory for various reasons. So I decided to craft my own visualization using R and igraph. As a first step I collected for all artists in my library the artists that the site classifies as similar. So I piggyback on for the network similarity measures. I also get info on the most-often used tag for the artist and the number of plays it has on the site. The rest is pretty straightforward as can be seen from the code. # Load the igraph and foreign packages (install if needed) require(igraph) require(foreign) lastfm<-read.csv(“”, header=T, encoding=”UTF-8″) #Load the dataset lastfm$include<-ifelse(lastfm$Similar %in% lastfm$Artist==T,1,0) #Index the links between artists in the library<, directed=F) #Import as a graph last.attr<-lastfm[-which(duplicated(lastfm$Artist)),c(5,3,4) ] #Create some attributes V([1:106]$listeners<-last.attr[,2] V([107:length(V(]$listeners<-NA V([1:106]$tag<-last.attr[,3] V([107:length(V(]$tag<-NA #Attach the attributes to the artist from the library (only) V($label.cex$tag<-ifelse(V($listeners>1200000, 1.4, (ifelse(V($listeners>500000, 1.2, (ifelse(V($listeners>100000, 1.1,…

The European Commission vs. the People

Note: re-post from the sister-blog The Commission has recently published its vision about the future of European integration. The report is more than ambitious calling for full banking, economic, budgetary and political integration, including ‘dedicated fiscal capacity for the euro area’ which I believe means taxation powers for the EU. Here is the assessment of the Commission about the present state of EU’s legitimacy: The Lisbon Treaty has perfected the EU’s unique model of supranational democracy, and in principle set an appropriate level of democratic legitimacy in regard of today’s EU competences. would be inaccurate to suggest that insurmountable accountability problems exist. (p.35) Wow, wait a minute! P e r f e c t e d    the model of supranational democracy?! Appropriate level of democratic legitimacy?! Are the Commissioners living on the same planet as the rest of us? According to data from autumn 2012, fewer than 1 in 3 Europeans said they trust the EU. 60% don’t trust the EU. For only 31% of European citizens the EU ‘conjures’ [sic] a positive image, while for 28% it ‘conjures’ a negative one. In late 2011 only 45% of European expressed satisfaction with the way democracy works in the EU. 43% were not satisfied with the ‘perfected model of supranational democracy’. And what about the impact of the Lisbon Treaty? Here is a graph of the trust Europeans have in the different EU institutions. By the way, the Commission currently stands at 36% (click to enlarge the graph). The trend is quite clear from a…

The most successful party family in Europe?!

“The populist radical right constitutes the most successful party family in postwar Western Europe.” (Cas Mudde, Stein Rokkan Lecture published in the latest issue of the European Journal of Political Research) I hope this is a typo or some other type of unintentional misunderstanding. How can the populist radical right be the most successful party family when they have never gotten more than 16% of the votes outside Austria and Switzerland (according to Table 1 in the same lecture)?   Mudde, C. A. S. “Three Decades of Populist Radical Right Parties in Western Europe: So What?” European Journal of Political Research 52, no. 1 (2013): 1-19. Abstract The populist radical right constitutes the most successful party family in postwar Western Europe. Many accounts in both academia and the media warn of the growing influence of populist radical right parties (PRRPs), the so-called ‘verrechtsing’ (or right turn) of European politics, but few provide empirical evidence of it. This lecture provides a first comprehensive analysis of the alleged effects of the populist radical right on the people, parties, policies and polities of Western Europe. The conclusions are sobering. The effects are largely limited to the broader immigration issue, and even here PRRPs should be seen as catalysts rather than initiators, who are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the introduction of stricter immigration policies. The lecture ends by providing various explanations for the limited impact of PRRPs, but it is also argued that populist parties are not destined for success in opposition…