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Making use of #opendata: EP Intergroups and the network of UK MEPs [2x updated]

Two weeks ago, I have blogged about European Parliament intergroups – 28 groups on various subjects which EP members can join to support a cause or to focus on special issues.

As the data is not easily accessible and usable, I have produce an open data set with a list of all EP intergroups and their members. And I have promised to take a look into the data with the help of network analysis.

Here some first results (click on the image for full size):

A quick explanation of what you see:

  1. Every node is one MEP, 74 in total. As the UK only has 73 MEPs, this data set will include at least one MEP who has already left the Parliament during this term.
  2. Every link represents at least one joint intergroup; thicker links represent more joint intergroups. Nodes that are not linked are not member in any intergroup.
  3. Node colour represents the political groups: European Conservatives and Reformists (black), Socialists & Democrats (red), Liberals (yellow), Greens (green), European United Left (pink), European Freedom & Democracy (grey), non-affiliated (white)
  4. Node shape represents gender and node size represent number of intergroup memberships (max. 8 )

What you can see in the network picture above is that UK MEPs’ membership in intergroups is pretty much shaped by their left-right political group affiliation. The Conservatives, EFD & non-affiliated members cluster together as do the Socialists, Labour, Greens and the United Left.

[Update:] For Social Network Analysis specialists I’ve uploaded a spreadsheet with a number of centrality measures for the nodes in the network depicted above.

The picture becomes even more clear when we only keep links for UK MEPs who are members in at least two joint groups (39 in total; non-linked nodes erased):

Here you can see that the picture one can already discover in the full network is even more striking in the reduced network.

From such a picture one could start looking into specific sub-clusters like the three ECR women on the left or the green-liberal sub-network on the upper left. Through which groups are these MEPs linked, do they work together beyond the membership that links them because they share common interests?

Or one can look into indivdual MEPs like the liberal Bill Newton Dunn on the lower right who seems to be more connected to the Conservative cluster. And indeed, looking into his Wikipedia CV linked above, one can see that formerly he actually was a member of the ECR group.

These are the kind of insights and stories network analysis can provide and this is why open data is quite important for political science, journalism and a better understanding of politics, including in the European Union.

If I have time, I’ll play around with the data a little more. Maybe you have particular ideas or questions?

Update 2: In the comments, there was the question whether one could not include the names of the intergroups in the picture. It is possible, as you can see below, although the picture gets a little more confusing (click on the image for full size).

Images produced with visone. Data transformation with the help of iGraph for R.



10 Responses to Making use of #opendata: EP Intergroups and the network of UK MEPs [2x updated]

  1. Pingback: The structure of EU politics: Story-telling about European Parliament committees | Polscieu

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