Data Visualization: The Colors of Democracy
What dots and colors have to do with the war on political corruption.
By Maria Popova
You know data visualization is big when you see it on one of those 4 x 6 postcards distributed in bars. In Bulgaria.
Spotted recently: The Colors of Democracy, a flyer displaying voting results by party affiliation for Bulgarian Parliament elections since the fall of Communism.
Each dot represents the official color of a specific Bulgarian party — the visualization clearly shows the declining grip of the conservative party (in red), the one most closely aligned with Communist ideology. More importantly, it shows the proliferation of alternative viewpoints and the diversification of the political landscape — a sign of hope in the dialogue on democracy.
The postcard — printed and distributed independently by Bulgarian designer Mihail Mihaylov — is part of a PSA campaign aiming to combat the vote-buying allegations plaguing the upcoming Parliament elections, encouraging people to vote based on judgment, not incentive. Political analysts have estimated that up to 12 million BGN, roughly $8.6 million, have been allocated to vote trade, a devastating slap in the face of democracy.
The back of the card reads, “Vote by conscience! Your vote is not for sale.”
This is important for two reasons. For one, it’s a timely dialogue to be had, in light of the recent unrest surrounding the Iranian elections — a gory example of vote fraud and the severely undemocratic ways in which protests against it were handled.
Secondly, it’s uplifting to see a thriving undercurrent of grassroots democracy activism among a nation slammed by The New York Times as a country whose entire political system is one big money-laundering machine for the mob.
The paradox, of course, is that the people this messaging is likely to resonate with are probably those already aligned with the very platform of the PSA campaign and thus least in need of an intervention. But that’s the fundamental folly of all cause marketing, so we’ll have to take it for what it is.
Published June 29, 2009