Another angle on Sinn Féin’s Westminster abstention

Any debate about Sinn Féin’s Westminster abstention policy tends to cover no new ground. It always starts with someone – most recently Polly Toynbee – suggesting that SF should take their seats to pursue some common, worthwhile objective, in this case, that of blunting the sharp edges of brexit. It ends with SF supporters asserting that (a) it is a key republican principle that can’t be easily argued away; (b) that the party has a clear mandate to abstain from Westminster; … Read more

Democracy Requires Another Assembly Election

In most established democracies there is only one solution when the political parties are deadlocked and cannot come to an agreement: hold another election. In Northern Ireland, for historical reasons, there has been the suspension of ‘normal’ rules with so-called ‘direct rule’ by the government in London instead of continued regional democracy. In the rules governing the Assembly, there is a short timeframe to form an Executive—just one week—after which the Secretary of State has the power to call another … Read more

A deal reached: May going to the palace

Just in… from the Guardian We wait for the detail, but it’s a reasonable guess that this is a supply and confidence deal. As I noted this morning, the Conservatives and DUP share 328 seats, which is an effective majority of 3. Sinn Fein abstentionism increases it to 6. Andy BoalAndy has a very wide range of interests including Christianity, Lego, transport, music, and computers. Anything can appear in a post. Andy tweets at @andyboal

All over bar the shouting…

As I write, the position is as follows:- Party Actual seats Expected final seats 2015-17 parliament Change Vote share Vote share change Conservatives 314 318 330 -12 42.4% +5.6% Labour 261 262 232 +30 40.2% +9.5% SNP 35 35 56 -21 3.0% -1.7% Liberal Democrats 12 12 8 +4 7.1% -0.6% DUP 10 10 8 +2 0.9% +0.3% Sinn Fein 7 7 4 +3 0.8% +0.2% Plaid Cymru 4 4 3 +1 0.5% +0.1% Green 1 1 1 – 1.6% … Read more

Whatever you do this election make your vote count…

vote ballot

As the scandal, exposés and drip feed of information continues from various departments and political parties over the renewable heat incentive scheme, there is one certainty.  We will be going to the polls on Thursday 2 March. Regardless of the why, we, the voters, have been handed a golden opportunity to pass judgement on the performance of our elected representatives. We have an opportunity to appease the ghosts of the 2016 elections, which saw Brexit and Trump triumph.  We have an … Read more

#ae17 in numbers

SEVEN DAYS before institutions collapse; 5 MLAs per constituency means a minimum of 18 MLAs not returning to the Assembly; 30 is still the magic PoC number; £85,000 still the estimated daily cost to the tax payer of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

#GE16 – The Goss 1

ROUND UP: As #GE16 gets underway we will be taking a look behind the scenes to keep you informed of the latest gossip from the front lines. If you have views or news from your constituency then email and keep us posted. All the gossip doing the rounds on the ground from #GE16.

Who Should I Vote For App’s – Accurate?

I’ve noticed in this General Election more than any other that there is an abundance of tools online to help the electorate align themselves with a party that matches closer to their values than another. Does it work though? Take a look at where I ended up across different guides. And don’t judge me…   Who Should You Vote For The questions weren’t exactly in-depth, each policy area was skimmed across rather than actually getting down to the nitty gritty … Read more

Let’s All Vote

Peter Robinson and his party hope that soon, Stormont will take control of corporation tax… that very same institution that he recently declared as “Not fit for purpose” Join the club, there are a lot of us who feel the same…we’re waiting on a back order of membership cards, you see, the anti-Stormont membership packs are being handled by the DVLA in Swansea… Gregory Campbell said words to the effect of “we can call an election, but it will be … Read more

With less than 1% of first preference vote, two candidates still won seats in Australian senate!

Nicholas Whyte blogged on From the Heart of Europe about a couple of remarkable victories where candidates with a minuscule proportion of first preference votes – less than 1% – went on to win seats in the Senate. The most stunning results of these is in Victoria, where the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party got a mere 11,232 first preferences, 0.52% of the total vote, 0.036 of a quota, less than twelve other parties contesting the election. But they appear to … Read more

Iceland election result: two parties blamed for economic meltdown returned to power

Back to Iceland to look at the election result. The BBC report that: Centre-right opposition parties in Iceland are set for a return to power with nearly all votes counted after Saturday’s parliamentary election. The Independence party has 26% and the Progressive party 24%, putting them on track to win nearly 40 of the 63 seats. The ruling Social Democrats are trailing with around 13%. It is a dramatic comeback for the parties widely blamed for Iceland’s economic meltdown in … Read more

A historic vote just took place in the USA. Oh, and Obama won too…

I’ve no idea how this flew under the radar, but the outside world (bar the BBC) has largely ignored the most historic American plebiscite since the 1950s. Obama’s re-election, important though it is in itself, might find itself eclipsed by what just took place in Puerto Rico – a clear popular vote in favour of statehood. If ratified by Congress (there is bipartisan support for the idea, although getting it though today’s cantankerous House may be tricky), PR will become … Read more

Adams damning McGuinness with faint praise..?

IT would have been easy for Gerry Adams to be fulsome in his praise of Martin McGuinness’ presidential campaign. Instead, the intro to Gerry Adams’ latest blog entry seems both ambiguous and odd – although the former may be politically ingrained and the latter blamed on his a faux folksy writing style. And – for a party as single-mindedly obsessed with expansionism as SF – not a word about the size of the vote. Here’s the first par, the one … Read more

Stratagem TV: Hurtling towards our uncharismatic election day…

Episode 4, the upcoming election… Not much change it seems, but Quintin’s tip towards the end (so you’ll have to watch the rest of us to get there!) that there will be big changes in the Executive make up is worth noting… Does he know something the rest of us don’t? I’d have liked to have heard more on the FM/DFM roles. I agree with Quintin that it seems not to be a big issue on the doorstep, but no … Read more

“The days of the Assembly as a novelty are over…”

This classy little video from Stratagem is the first of a series with comment from a range of voices (yours truly amongst them)… It starts with a review of the last four years… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

UTV North Antrim Election Twitter roadshow

So next Wednesday we are going to the Braid Arts Centre in Bridge Street Ballymena to host a discussion of the issue facing the voters of North Antrim. We’re hoping to draw in opinion from across the constituency, from Ballycastle down through Ballymoney and Ballymena not to mention the vast rural hinterland. As you can see from my interview with Marc Mallett earlier in the week, it will be held in an open format, and the point is to initiate … Read more

SNP steps out into the post Obama election era…

Here’s a fascinating story from the Scottish political space, not least wearing my own Slugger Consults hat. There is, and I think rightly so, some scepticism about whether all this activity and emphasis on social networking means anything in real political terms. As you know we’re running a series of Twitter election meet ups with UTV (there’s still spaces in Ballymena and East Belfast) but it’s a completely different matter as to whether it ever works for a political party. … Read more

#AE11 Open Thread: North Down (#ndo11)

Every year, North Down is a lottery. It has in the deep past been a bit of a no go for the DUP. That broke with the defection of Peter Weir from the UUP. The party now have two MLAs going into this election with a third candidate who has a chance of picking up a third. But this IS North Down, so nothing is certain. Brian Wilson’s Green seat looks hard for Stephen Agnew to hang on to, despite … Read more

Dump d’Hondt: The UUP’s suggestion for improved Executive

There are still some folk in the SDLP who see their role (as Mark Durkan undoubtedly did) as the guardians of the institutions set up by the Belfast Agreement. But as we’ve seen with the shift in the rules for the election of First and deputy First Minister’s roles, that’s not a position held anywhere else. The UUP’s Mark Neale looks at the impasse over education and reprises Tom Eliott’s idea that the winning parties ought to be forced to … Read more

McNarry apologises for Nolan outburst…

Interesting. Ken Reid reports that even though technically speaking David McNarry was right in suggesting Basil McCrea and John McCallister were unforgiveably breaking ranks on a party line (in suggesting the matter of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister was not important to them), he has apologised for his outburst on Stephen Nolan’s show last week… Mr McNarry apologised for his contribution to last week’s First Minister’s row and said the party was now united. It might have helped if Basil … Read more