European Parliament Elections: The Wonder of Wikipedia

Wikipedia hosts not only basic factual information regarding the recent elections but excellent analysis as well, particularly regarding the relative efficacy this time of preference voting with  3 out of 13 getting positions thanks to preference voting: Zaborska (KDH), Mikolasik (KDH) and Paska (SNS–though helped perhaps by his famous Smer namesake?).   Full information is here.,_2009_(Slovakia)

Thanks to a reader for pointing it out and…I suspect…for providing the said analysis.

New Parties: SaS does the electoral math

SaS LogoInteresting post today from Richard Sulik, founder of Sloboda a Solidarita (trendily-colored logo is at left, found not on a party website but on a Facebook page), who responds to the charge from SDKU that SaS hurt the right by causing voters to “waste” votes on a party that did not make it over the threshold (

Sulik makes interesting arguments to suggest that SaS voters had good reason to vote in other ways and that they might not have voted at all, but he also makes good use of electoral math to make his point:  he uses the electoral formula to show that  reallocation of all SaS to SDKU would only have reallocated the number of seats that went to the right (SDKU would have gained one but KDH would have lost one) and thus that SaS did not impact the final result.  The math looks solid to me and it is nice to see someone respond to arguments by looking at actual numbers and rules.

Nevertheless, it is not as easy to dismiss the SDKU arguments if they are seen as a warning about future elections.  SaS did not have much impact in the European Parliament elections because there were so few seats at stake (13 [Correction, thanks reader “Richard”).  Had it been a parliamentary election (and yes, many other things would have been different as well), Sulik’s argument is not quite as strong.  I’ve reworked his numbers assuming the 150 seats of Slovakia’s parliament at stake.  According to this, calcuation, SaS would have had a significant impact on SDKU votes (which would have gained 6 seats had it received all of the SaS votes) which is partially but not completely ameliorated by its impact on KDH and SMK (each of which would have lost a seat).  In terms of coalition and opposition, this is almost a crucial difference:  from clear parliamentary majority for Smer-SNS-HZDS to a bare majority that would hinge on the decision of only two deputies.

European Parliament Election Results if 150 seats (the Slovak Parliament) were available for election, according to two hypotheses:

Party SaS supporters vote for SaS SaS supporters vote for SDKU
Smer 56 53
SDKU 30 36
SMK 20 19
KDH 19 18
HZDS 16 15
SNS 9 9
Smer+HZDS+SNS 81 77

Of course this is all theory, but the underlying debate is deeply relevant.  The more the fragmentation on the right, the worse it is likely to do (as the left and the Slovak nationals demonstrated in 2002), but it is not a zero-sum game and it may be true that Sulik’s party brings out new voters.  His ability to mobilize certainly is apparent in this election.  The question for me is whether the best use of Facebook/youtube/social networks is enough to attract the 115,000 voters who will likely be necessary to get a party over the 5% threshold in 2010?  The effort is certainly worth watching.

pozorblog po slovensky

Amid constant news of contraction and decline this week, there is (slightly old) news of yet another small but significant expansion: machine translation to and from Slovak.   Machine translation is old news these days (though it is no less remarkable for our acceptance of it) and is no panacea (it is still bad enough that without a basic understanding of the language it is easy to be deeply confused or seriously misled), but it is nice to see Slovak make the list of Google Translate languages.

For this blog it makes little difference–the population of those who are interested in what goes on here but cannot read English is infinitesimal–but it is nice to be able to make the gesture and all subsequent posts here will include a link like the one below allowing automatic translation.

I hope in future to go one step further and install a plugin that makes that process even easier.

Blackboard = Brasilia

The Chronicle of Higher Ed recently published the following snippet in its daily email update on technology:

Weller says new Web tools (such as wikis and video-capture technology) put power in the hands of students, but traditional learning-management systems (such as Moodle and Blackboard) emphasize central control by the learning institutions, so he predicts that “monolithic LMSs will be deserted, digital tumbleweed blowing down their forums. Students will abandon this in favor of their tools.” —Maria José Viñas

I immediately thought of Fred Stutzman’s post on web tools and Jane Jacobs. I think the “ghost town” image isn’t as appropriate as the one implicit in your work: the big new-built urban-renewal municipal complexes of the the 1950’s-1970’s with their rectilinear buildings and giant, treeless public “squares.”


Like LMS’s these are not without human presence–people need to go to those places to get services that they need–but nobody lingers there. They leave them as quickly as they can for tree-lined streets with stores and things more human. That’s what happens, I think, with our big monolithic systems, and that’s why I’d prefer to set up my academic shop (or at least a branch office) between the coffee house and the bookstore and far from city hall…

(Of course it’s interesting that the big monolithic urban spaces are now at least occasionally filled with skateboarders and graffiti. So even /those/ sterile urban spaces get repurposed (it is exactly their sterility and rectilinearity that makes them so great for other purposes. There’s great stuff on this in James Scott’s “Seeing Like a State.”)

Political Science 2.0: How Technological Change Affects Politics and Those Who Study It

Below please find notes for the talk I will give on March 31, 2008 at the Annual Doctoral Conference of the Poltical Science Department of Central European University. As befits the topic and this blog, I will be updating this page periodically to add resources and fill in the blanks. If you are reading this, I would appreciate your input in two ways:

  1. While availability permits, please take 5-10 minutes to answer a survey that will permit me to speak directly to the experience of current graduate students:
  2. Please leave comments in the designated section below. The more comments I can get beforehand, the better the presentation (and its successors) will be.

What’s a geek like me doing in a place like this…

I. Technology and Politics

II. The Web and Politics

III. Technology and Political Science

  • Working with words
  • Working with numbers
  • Working with others
    • Web 1.0
    • Web 2.0
    • O’Reilly on Web2.0
    • Wikipedia on Web2.0

IV. Web 2.0 and political science?

  • “Good News About What You Are Already Doing”
    • Folksonomies
    • Collective Intelligence
    • Distributed Processing
    • Reputation Economies
    • Object-centered social networks
  • Andrew Chadwick’s Furl list:
  • Andrew Chadwick explains his Furl list:
  • Jo Guldi explains how she uses in research:
  • Educause, Seven Things You Should Know About Social Bookmarking,
  • Opportunities
  • Dangers
  • Obligations