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Election Maps Show Old Borders

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A strange and easily overlooked phenomenon was laid out by writer and part-time cartographer Frank Jacobs in the NYTimes opinion section: dead borders that re-appear during elections.  To put it more clearly: in several countries today if you look at a map with election results, you will see defunct borders from the past.  Which could also lead to the conclusion, there are still divisions that exist between regions even if borders disappeared long ago.

In his piece Jacobs uses Poland and a map of the legislative elections from earlier this year.  On maps that paint regions certain colors according to which political party gains the most votes, a fairly clear line appears which divides the country .  This line happens to run along the same path at the old imperial border which existed between imperial Russia and Germany (Prussia) back in the mid 1800’s. Coincidence? Perhaps not, suggests Jacobs, who points out that this particular region saw a lot of ethnic upheaval up to and including the era of WWII.  Compared to the rest of the country, Poles settled here much later, and benefit from a denser rail system and richer farmland. So maybe its just a matter of a better life that leads people to vote liberal rather then across the zombie border where conservatives dominate politics.

But this isn’t all about Poland. The author points out a long list of examples that people can examine for themselves on sites like Electoral Geography 2.0. Even in examples like the United States and France, similar relationships have been pointed out.  Each may be its own country with long established borders, but old lines that used to cut through the country still appear if you look at a modern electoral map.

Source: NY Times

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