IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Making the political landscape visible: mapping and analyzing voting patterns in an ideological space


  • Heinrich Leuthold
  • Michael Hermann
  • Sara Irina Fabrikant


This paper investigates the applicability of knowledge domain mapping for analyzing political science data. Utilizing metaphorical-space models grounded on political science theory, and applying sound cartographic visualization techniques, we demonstrate the construction and analysis of knowledge domain maps for exploring voting behaviour in Switzerland. We digitally transformed the results of Swiss popular referenda of the last twenty years to generate a 3-dimensional semantic space representing the current political landscape of Switzerland. The whole country is depicted in this semantic political space at various spatial scales. Locations in this spatialization represent aggregated voting outcomes from cities, regions, and provinces. Special attention was given to the interpretation of the resulting spatial configuration. This includes the assignment of meaning to the axes of the 3D space, depicted in two dimensions. Armed with political science theory locations in the voting behaviour space can be analyzed and the resulting political pattern can be interpreted meaningfully. The spatialized views were disseminated to the public after recent Swiss elections. The initial feedback from domain specialists and decision-makers alike has been very encouraging. Measured by high number of substantive reactions and wide-spread feedback on these spatializations of voting behaviour one could deduce that these abstract views were readily accepted and understood by public administrators, political party leaders, and the politically interested public. Based on these experiences we conclude the paper with a first attempt at identifying design recommendation for spatializing multidimensional political datasets.

Suggested Citation

  • Heinrich Leuthold & Michael Hermann & Sara Irina Fabrikant, 2007. "Making the political landscape visible: mapping and analyzing voting patterns in an ideological space," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 34(5), pages 785-807, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:34:y:2007:i:5:p:785-807

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: abstract
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Somogyi, Frank & Sturm, Jan-Egbert, 2011. "Tax competition and income sorting: Evidence from the Zurich metropolitan area," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 455-470, September.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:34:y:2007:i:5:p:785-807. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.