Create a dataset of Irish parliament members

library(rvest)
library(tidyverse)
library(toOrdinal)
library(magrittr)
library(genderizeR)
library(stringi)

This blogpost will walk through how to scrape and clean up data for all the members of parliament in Ireland.

Or we call them in Irish, TDs (or Teachtaí Dála) of the Dáil.

We will start by scraping the Wikipedia pages with all the tables. These tables have information about the name, party and constituency of each TD.

On Wikipedia, these datasets are on different webpages.

This is a pain.

However, we can get around this by creating a list of strings for each number in ordinal form – from1st to 33rd. (because there have been 33 Dáil sessions as of January 2023)

We don’t need to write them all out manually: “1st”, “2nd”, “3rd” … etc.

Instead, we can do this with the toOrdinal() function from the package of the same name.

dail_sessions <- sapply(1:33,toOrdinal)

Next we can feed this vector of strings with the beginning of the HTML web address for Wikipedia as a string.

We paste the HTML string and the ordinal number strings together with the stri_paste() function from the stringi package.

This iterates over the length of the dail_sessions vector (in this case a length of 33) and creates a vector of each Wikipedia page URL.

dail_wikipages <- stri_paste("https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Members_of_the_",
           dail_sessions, "_D%C3%A1il")

Now, we can take the most recent Dáil session Wikipedia page and take the fifth table on the webpage using `[[`(5)

We rename the column names with select().

And the last two mutate() lines reomve the footnote numbers in ( ) [ ] brackets from the party and name variables.

dail_wikipages[33] %>%  
  read_html() %>%
  html_table(header = TRUE, fill = TRUE) %>% 
  `[[`(5) %>% 
  rename("ble" = 1, "party" = 2, "name" = 3, "constituency" = 4) %>% 
  select(-ble) %>% 
  mutate(party = gsub(r"{\s*\([^\)]+\)}","",as.character(party))) %>% 
  mutate(name = sub("\\[.*", "", name)) -> dail_33

Last we delete the first row. That just contais a duplicate of the variable names.

dail_33 <- dail_33[-1,]

We want to delete the fadas (long accents on Irish words). We can do this across all the character variables with the across() function.

The stri_trans_general() converts all strings to LATIN ASCII, which turns string to contain only the letters in the English language alphabet.

dail_33 %<>% 
  mutate(across(where(is.character), ~ stri_trans_general(., id = "Latin-ASCII"))) 

We can also separate the first name from the second names of all the TDs and create two variables with mutate() and separate()

dail_33 %<>% 
  mutate(name = str_replace(name, "\\s", "|")) %>% 
  separate(name, into = c("first_name", "last_name"), sep = "\\|") 

With the first_name variable, we can use the new pacakge by Kalimu. This guesses the gender of the name. Later, we can track the number of women have been voted into the Dail over the years.

Of course, this will not be CLOSE to 100% correct … so later we will have to check each person manually and make sure they are accurate.

devtools::install_github("kalimu/genderizeR")

gender = findGivenNames(dail_33$name, progress = TRUE)

gender %>% 
  select(probability, gender)  -> gen_variable

gen_variable %<>% 
  select(name, gender) %>% 
  mutate(name = str_to_sentence(name))

dail_33 %<>% 
  left_join(gen_variable, by = "name") 

Create date variables and decade variables that we can play around with.

dail_df$date_2 <- as.Date(dail_df$date, "%Y-%m-%d")

dail_df$year <- format(dail_df$date_2, "%Y")

dail_df$month <- format(dail_df$date_2, "%b")

dail_df %>% 
  mutate(decade = substr(year, 1, 3)) %>% 
  mutate(decade = paste0(decade, "0s"))

In the next blog, we will graph out the various images to explore these data in more depth. For example, we can make a circle plot with the composition of the current Dail with the ggparliament package.

We can go into more depth with it in the next blog… Stay tuned.

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