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Today โ€” July 22nd 2019Weird&Strange

Zip-wire calamity to wild rugby tackles: The comedic face of UK's Johnson

Dangling helplessly from a zip-wire while waving British Union Jack flags, Boris Johnson and his attempt to publicize a party in one of London's parks became one of the most memorable non-sporting moments of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Before yesterdayWeird&Strange

Man made fake bomb threat to get date with flight attendant

A 65-year-old man has admitted making a fake bomb threat in the hope of getting a date with a flight attendant.

  • July 20th 2019 at 14:41

'Please reply': Message in a bottle found 50 years on

The British author of a 50-year-old message in a bottle that washed up on an Australian beach has been found - and is at sea again.

  • July 18th 2019 at 10:31

Fishy customers: Police remove penguins from sushi shop

Two peckish penguins were removed twice by police after attempting to nest underneath a sushi shop in New Zealand.

  • July 17th 2019 at 13:57

Train delayed as commuter's hair gets stuck in door

Passengers on a busy commuter train to London were held up on Wednesday morning - all because of someone's hair extensions.

  • July 17th 2019 at 10:23

'We stand ready': US air force warns against 'raid' on Area 51

More than one million people who have signed up to raid Area 51 in the hope of seeing evidence of aliens have been warned that the US air force "stands ready to protect America and its assets".

  • July 16th 2019 at 22:55

Chicago alligator stakeout snaps shut after professional catches reptile

An elusive alligator residing in a Chicago lagoon was caught early on Tuesday after the reptile, thought to be an abandoned pet, captivated locals for nearly a week.

Colombian caught in Spain with cocaine under toupee

A Colombian man was detained at Barcelona's international airport after half a kilo of cocaine was found hidden under an over-sized toupee, Spanish police said on Tuesday.

Wales takes world's steepest street title from New Zealand

Just days after they lost the Cricket World Cup, New Zealand has suffered a second major blow - this time at the hands of Wales.

  • July 15th 2019 at 23:19

Translating polls into policy outcomes

By DIRKMJK

In a report on last May’s Australian election, Nick Evershed of the Guardian translated live election results into support for specific policy outcomes.

We wanted to make an alternate view of election results that moves the results away from the ‘horse race’ and instead emphasises the policy outcomes of the election – that is, what the outcome will actually mean for people in the real world.

I reckoned you could do the same with polls instead of election results. I selected a number of proposals that have been put to a vote in the Dutch Lower House. Using Tom Louwerse’s Peilingwijzer ‘poll of polls’, I tracked developments in the combined virtual vote share of the parties that have voted in favour of those proposals.

The support for individual parties may show considerable fluctuations, but the combined support for policy proposals is relatively stable. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Voters may switch quite easily from one party to the other, but not randomly: they tend to stick to a set of parties with broadly similar values. This suggests that voters will often switch between parties that tend to support the same proposals.

Still, some proposals do show growth or decline in their combined virtual vote share. This includes proposals that were supported by either FvD or PVV but not both: FvD has seen considerable growth in the polls, partly at the expense of PVV. Proposals supported by left-wing parties also saw their support grow somewhat, but not if D66 was among the supporting parties.

So what does this all mean? The chart above doesn’t predict which policies will be implemented after the next election (just like the underlying polls aren’t simply a prediction of the next election result). However, it does appear to be a useful tool to make sense of fluctuations in polls.

Key to parties.

UPDATE 21 July 2019 - New Peilingwijzer data has been published since; the chart has been updated to include the fresh data. For the conclusions this doesn’t really make much of a difference.

Caveats

One could argue that how parties vote doesn’t always reflect their position, especially when coalition parties have to stick to concessions they have made in the coalition agreement. I dealt with this by using only proposals (with one exception) on which the coalition parties VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie did not vote unanimously. Apparently, there was no pressure to vote along coalition lines in these cases.

Voters (and respondents in polls) aren’t always aware of the positions of the parties they support. For example, many voters want the government to reduce income differences. They may (wrongly) assume that the party they support also wants to reduce income differences.

As for the chart: an area chart is always a bit problematic, but it would appear to be a defensible choice when you want to show developments in the combined vote share of a number of parties. I guess it could be improved by putting parties that show large variations in the polls on top and the more stable ones to the bottom.

  • July 14th 2019 at 10:33

Half a million sign up to raid Area 51 and 'see them aliens'

Half a million people have signed up to "storm" a US military base that conspiracy theorists say holds alien technology.

  • July 12th 2019 at 23:03

The longest toilet break? Belgian sits for five days in bid for record

A Belgian man sat on a toilet for nearly five days this week in a bid to set a world record.

'Best day ever!' Internet pokes fun at Mexico's finance minister grim-faced job acceptance

Mexico's Arturo Herrera looks grim in a viral video in which President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador names him finance minister, a job Herrera's predecessor left in a huff at a time when Latin America's second largest economy is signaling weakness.

Later alligator: Chicago wants scaly resident out of local lagoon

An alligator has taken up residence in a Chicago lagoon, surprising locals after a winter of polar temperatures in the third-largest U.S. city.

Woman 'hurls snake at driver' in alleged car-jacking caught on camera

A woman in the US has been charged with carjacking and property damage after she allegedly stole a vehicle by throwing a live snake at the driver - before crashing through barricades set up for a pole-vaulting exhibition.

  • July 10th 2019 at 07:59

Brazil's Israel embassy ridiculed for trying to hide non-kosher lobster

The Brazilian embassy in Israel has been ridiculed for badly censoring a picture that appears to show non-kosher shellfish.

  • July 9th 2019 at 15:01

Headbanging cockatoo knows 14 different dance moves

A headbanging cockatoo has wowed researchers after showing off 14 different dance moves to 1980s classics.

  • July 8th 2019 at 16:34

Lithuanian couple defends world wife-carrying championship title

A Lithuanian couple won the World Wife-Carrying Championship for a second time in a row in the Finnish town of Sonkajarvi on Saturday, triumphing in a contest where men complete an obstacle course with their wives slung over their shoulders.

'A scarecrow... a Smurfette': Melania statue unveiled near hometown

A life-size wooden statue of US first lady Melania Trump has been unveiled in her birth country of Slovenia, but not everyone is pleased with it.

  • July 6th 2019 at 02:55
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