What do the runes of the 2005 election results say about Lagan Valley, North Down and Strangford?In Lagan Valley the Westminster results say 4 DUP, 1 UUP and 1 Alliance while the local government results have it as 3 DUP, 2 UUP and 1 SF. So both Unionist parties will be targetting the constituency. The loss of Lewsley and Close will act as encouragement to Sinn Fein while the loss of Close will encourage the UUP. 3 DUP and 1 UUP seats are safe but it will be a four way battle for the last two with vote management crucial. In that context the decision to run three UUP candidates seems unwise and the DUP will have to overcome the pull of Donaldson’s name.
As always North Down is probably the most unpredictable constituency. The Westminster result is problematic as an indicator as Hermon brought together an anti-DUP coalition of voters but it predicts 3 UUP, 2 DUP and 1 Alliance. However, the local government results do not make the picture easier to determine. 2 DUP, 1 UUP and 1 Alliance seem to be safe and the UUP seem to have a good shout for a second. The pressure on a reluctant Hermon to run is to ensure the 2nd UUP seat with the UUP optimists hoping for a 3rd. However, in the local government results parties and candidates not belonging to the main five parties attracted almost 2 full quotas. A rejuvenated Bob McCartney will be ready for a fight to keep his seat to remain a thorn in the DUP’s side and he seems to have a firm physical vote of about 3,000. As regards the other small parties and independents the failure to transfer among themselves usually ensures the main five still come out on top. An interesting note is that as this is the Greens best opportunity, they should focus all their resources there and try to take advantage of a new Alliance candidate.
With both indicators problematic I will stick my neck out with the prediction of no change. However, it is probably worthy a punt at the bookies as the longest count in Northern Ireland.
In Strangford the Westminster result predicts 4 DUP, 1 UUP and 1 Alliance. However, local government has the UUP holding its ground with the status quo of 3 DUP, 2 UUP and 1 Alliance. The UUP’s cause will be helped if the two incumbents remain in the race, Kilclooney (aka Taylor) and McNarry, the loss of either will spur on the DUP. The SDLP will be targetting the Alliance seat but both indicators give Alliance the edge. Last time this constituency was one of the poster boys for DUP vote management both in terms of 1st preference votes and transfers with will all three elected in two counts this time they need to try to do it for four candidates.