Sunday, July 3, 2016

Edmonton City Council Votes (Part 2)

A year ago I did a short piece looking at Edmonton city council voting patterns. It was pretty fun and showed some cool blocks in city council, but since then we've had a monster by-election, so it seemed like now is a good time to take a second look at this analysis.

Since council as a whole got elected in 2013, there have been 5763 votes performed, according to the city's Open Data catalogue. Of course, many of these are procedural matters, and the vast majority of them are unanimous. If we restrict the votes to non-unanimous votes to see how the councillors interact, we're actually only left with 358 votes to look at.

Of those 358 votes, we can come up with this result, showing how often each member of council agreed with each other member of council. I've colour-coded it to make the numbers seem a little less daunting:

The major update here, of course, is the addition of Councillor Banga to the mix. He seems to generally follow the Iveson/Esslinger/Walters group that we identified last year, though generally less so than his predecessor Amarjeet Sohi did. He also seems to disagree with Councillor Caterina disproportionately relative to anyone else. Again, much like a year ago, Councillor Nickel is a bit of an outsider, who agrees with his colleagues far less than anyone else does.

Another way of looking at this is to make network graphs. This first one shows all connections with councillors that agree with each other at least 67% of the time (this number was chosen so that Councillor Nickel isn't left out). Feel free to play with it, it's rather fun!

Alternatively, we can generate a network graph based on who agrees with who the most frequently. Orange arrows (when you hover over them) indicate the most frequent agreements for each councillor, blue arrows indicate that another councillor most frequently agrees with the first, but that it isn't reciprocated.

This shows a bit more clearly how potential groupings look at city council. Five councillors agree with Mayor Iveson more than anyone else, and two other councillors most frequently agree with two of those five. On the other hand, the remaining 5 other councillors tend to spread out from Councillor Caterina.

Of course, these two groups aren't all that different - Councillor Caterina and Mayor Iveson still vote the same on 75% of contested motions, so realistically they agree 98% of the time on all motions, but the above network graph is a nice way to dramatize it!

Finally, we can also take a look at how often each member of council ends up getting the result they voted for on each motion. Again, only looking at non-unanimous votes, we have:

Impressively, Mayor Iveson ends up on the winning side of a council vote 95% of the time. In fact, of all 5763 votes performed since 2013, Mayor Iveson has only been disappointed 17 times. There are certainly many conclusions that can be drawn from that, but at the very least nobody can say that Don Iveson has difficulties instituting the agenda he wants on council.

So there you go. I plan to do another analysis like this before the next election, so stay tuned for that one!


Bruce Warren said...

interesting stuff!
Do you know if Calgary has similar data available?

William said...

I recently heard a baseless and cynical comment which suggested YEGCC councilors who were local to a contentious issue would vote in the direction their ward would prefer (looking like heroes fighting for their ward) while the majority of council would vote in the opposite, often unpopular direction. For example, given a choice most citizens will tell you high density residential has an important place but when you tell them that place is going to be in their community, they do not want it. So this left me wondering does the data support (coincidentally or not) such a conspiracy theory?

William said...

I also wonder if councilors most often vote what they believe is best or what they believe their constituents would want?

Along the same line and assuming self-belief (not self-serving), if a councilor (or mayor) knew their belief contradicted that of their constituents but they honestly believed there would be no repercussions would they vote their own belief or that of the constituents?

Anonymous said...

Yes, they do strategically vote and read how the rest of the vote will go and can often vote differently to send a message back to their wards or colleagues. Of course the fact that I have heard this directly from a few Councillors.... they would publicly say I am speculating.