Jun 252016
 

So Britain has voted for Leave. The BBC is providing coverage 24/7. And the most amazing thing? To me,  it is the deafening silence from the Conservative leadership and the Leave campaign.
The country has just held what might be the most important vote in a generation or more. Britain is divided against itself in all sorts of ways. The rest of Europe is jumping up and down excitedly. Foreign ministers and PMs across the continent try to calm down the markets and their people.
Meanwhile in Britain, there is zilch political leadership. No one is outlining any sort of plan. Boris,  the man who has supposedly won the campaign, has not been seen or heard since Friday morning. Cameron is doing business as usual, inspecting the armed forces. The rest of them probably had plans for the weekend, as opposed to plans for carrying out Brexit. For the outsider, it looks once more like bloody amateur night in British politics – a night that might last all summer.

image

Nov 092015
 

Taking a walk whilst running two variants of a slightly dodgy LTA in parallel on 64 of this baby’s 35,000-odd cores (to please a grumpy reviewer). Feeling like a proper scientist for a change. Needless to say that the whole thing shut down 35 minutes into the world’s fastest MPlus run, because the wardrobe-sized cooling unit broke down. Never happened on my desktop.

Mogon

Mogon. Image Credit: ZDV JGU Mainz

sundown

Jun 282014
 

When I drove home from work a couple of days ago, I noticed a policeman flagging down precisely every tenth car in the other lane and directing the drivers towards a lay-by. He was in uniform, wearing hi-vis gear and his government-issued Walther, so non-compliance was clearly not an issue. The scene was completed by a large billboard, stating that this was no ordinary vehicle spotcheck but rather a road use survey. I badly want these guys on our team.

police

Feb 152013
 

Rejoice, oh you PolSci nerds out there: Three of my favourite European blogs – Ballots & Bullets at Nottingham and the British Politics and European Politics blogs at the LSE – are launching a collaboration on euroscepticism, with a whole host of interesting stuff in the pipeline. What’s not to like?

Feb 102013
 

Pat Thomson – drawing on work by Noel Gough – likens epistemological positions to crime-novel heroes. Turns out I’m a positivist (or post-positivist? why post-?) Sherlock, though I would rather be a Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe  (guess their epistemological vantage point). They are way cooler, and I’d prefer the Bourbon over the morphine. What kind of detective are you?

Jan 052013
 

Every sentient and internet enabled being in the Western world has by now noticed that Amazon’s “customers who bought this item” algorithm is one of the most successful exercises in machine learning. Like various algorithms used by Google, it is oftentimes accurate as well as slightly frightening.

A friend of mine (who is an engineer) told me that he bought an administrator’s guide to Cisco routers. Amazon concluded that he might also be interested in “Cooking for one”. I, on the other hand, recently browsed the excellent Cambridge “Dictionary of Statistics” and also had a look at “All of Statistics” (preposterous title, but an interesting book – incidentally, it tries to convey statistical basics to engineers interested in machine learning). Amazon suggested to round off my order with – drum roll – “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I’m sure my students would agree that there is an intimate link between these three titles.

Jun 042012
 

German politics never fails to amaze: After the Left parties successful attempt to condemn itself to irrelevance without actually splitting the party, the ball is back in the ruling coalition’s court. Today was the day of the ‘coalition summit’, i.e. a formal meeting of the respective leaders of the three parties in the chancellery. The main purpose of these summits is not normally to have a frank exchange of ideas, or to draw up grand designs – it’s a bit late for that in the electoral cycle anyway. Rather, they are shows of unity and determination. As such, they would normally end with a joint press conference or some other public display of sympathy and dynamism. Today, the three leaders left the chancellery in their limousines, denying us any comments, which of course looks like a statement in its own right.

Apparently, however, they have agreed on two things: After months of quarrelling, the coalition will initiate legislation on the ‘Betreuungsgeld’, a pet project of the Bavarian CSU. Over the last years, the government has invested heavily (by West German standards) in the development of state-run and state-sponsored day nurseries, and will have to invest a lot more to meet its targets. This is not exactly a Christian-conservative priority, and so the CSU wants an extra subsidy for parents who do not use these subsidised facilities. Large parts of the CDU are lukewarm at best, and the FDP says it’s nonsensical, but they will go ahead with it nonetheless because they accepted the idea in principle in the 2009 coalition talks. As a reward for them, the government will also initiate legislation on an FDP project: a subsidy/tax credit for private long-term care insurance contracts that complement the state-run long-term care insurance program. Experts disagree how much extra money will be needed for care, and it seems a little roundabout and not very liberal to tax people so that the government can then hand that money back in the form of subsidies to private companies that provide a service which the state cannot provide, but I trust that some people in the industry are very happy tonight. And yes, this is the very same government that insists on austerity and balanced budgets.

Back in 1951, Lasswell and Lerner defined policy as ‘a systematic attempt to shape the future’. But that was before the discipline invented symbolic politics, and I’m sure the coalition summit is exactly what they had in mind.

Jun 012012
 

This is brilliant: an “in press/corrected proof” version of our article on the effect of distance between candidates and their prospective voters in England has just appeared on the ScienceDirect website (click on the DOI below). If you cannot get beyond the paywall, the authors’ version is still available here.

    Arzheimer, Kai and Jocelyn Evans. “Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England.” Political Geography 31.5 (2012): 301-310. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006
    [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF] [HTML] [DATA]

    The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants’ support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual’s support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters’ choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.

    @Article{arzheimer-evans-2012,
    author = {Arzheimer, Kai and Evans, Jocelyn},
    title = {Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England},
    number = {5},
    volume = {31},
    abstract = {The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants' support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual's support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters' choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.},
    journal = {Political Geography},
    year = 2012,
    doi = {10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006},
    pages = {301--310},
    keywords = {uk, gis},
    html = {http://www.kai-arzheimer.com/paper/geolocation-voting-candidate-voter-distance-effects-party-choice-2010-general-election-england},
    data = {http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/17940},
    url = {http://www.kai-arzheimer.com/arzheimer-evans-geolocation-vote-england.pdf}
    }