Clearing the space for a deal…

Some things don’t change. We can expect a continuing fight a day between the only two parties that have really mattered since November 2003. Something that has changed though, is the viability of the dissenters against some form of agreement. Stephen Farry in North Down looks like he will be elected on the count before doyen of the ‘antis’, Robert McCartney, is eliminated in his base constituency. As one Alliance Party stalwart told Slugger last night: “people were telling us they were voting Sinn Fein and the DUP and telling them to do a deal, and telling us they voting for us to make sure they do a deal”.

  • Observer

    This is a very interesting election.

    People thought the ‘dissenters’, both on Sinn Fein’s side and the DUPes would have some impact.

    But, are people voting for a deal?

    It looks clear that people are, but I think people are turing out for their ‘own’ side.

    Unionists are sick and tired of being walked over. I also do not believe that Unionists necessarily want a deal with Sinn Fein, but have faith in the DUP leadership.

    This has had a knock on effect on the UUP. Many fo their voters switched to the DUP or Alliance. This is particularly visable in East Belfast and South Antrim, to name but a few.

    On the Nationalist side. The SDLP held their ground, mind you though as it was. The Shinners voters turned out in opposition to the DUP and in support for nationalism.

    Helping the two main parties was good voter management; learning on the back of experience of previous elections. This is particularly visable in Upper Bann, East Belfast, West Belfast, West Tyrone, Mid-Ulster, North Antrim, Strangford and East Londonderry.

    South Belfast demonstrates two things: a fracture of the Unionist vote along with Unionist apathy.

    Management in North Belfast didn’t work well for the DUP, who could well have stretched to 3 MLA’s at Cobain’s expense.

    What is also clear is that Unionists have turnout in the country areas, i.e. anywhere but Belfast.

    Does this demonstrate a changing society in Belfast?

    Very interesting times.

    Alliance poll very well, whilst expecting to loose seats. SDLP hold on, just about. UUP in meltdown, as expected, but maybe not as bad as some would have predicted. This is particularly true in East Londonderry, East Antrim (however will get two in) and Upper Bann to name a few.

    Where do we go from here? I’m not confident of a N.I. Executive in the near future.

    People say get on with it, BUT Unionists say that with little confidence. Unionists do not trust Sinn Fein who are out to wreck and ruin Northern Ireland.

  • Chris Donnelly

    As one Alliance Party stalwart told Slugger last night: “people were telling us they were voting Sinn Fein and the DUP and telling them to do a deal, and telling us they voting for us to make sure they do a deal”.

    Hilarious stuff, the latest manifestation of the ‘they’re only lending them our votes’ line.

    Bit unfair maybe on the Alliance-minded individual, but I’ve just heard Dolores Kelly trot out something similar on BBC Radio Ulster.

    All proof that ‘denial’ ain’t just a river in Egypt….

    “People say get on with it, BUT Unionists say that with little confidence. Unionists do not trust Sinn Fein who are out to wreck and ruin Northern Ireland.”

    Observer
    .AND nationalists remain deeply sceptical of unionism’s willingness to embrace power-sharing and equality.

    Bottom line: the ball’s in the DUP court. There’s little or no trust all round and waiting for it to develop is hardly a wise strategy.

  • Greenflag

    Never mind what people say just watch what they do . When people went into polling booths around NI they voted in the main for the two tribal totems. South Belfast and East Belfast (to a lesser degree proved to be anomalies to the general rule as the Alliance Party revival showed ) The ‘Green’ factions now outnumber the ‘Orange’ in Belfast by 12 to 10 with the AP ‘s 2 seats just barely holding off a Green outright ‘majority’ in representation.

    Overall in Belfast the voters gave SF the most votes 37,776

    SF – 37,776
    SDLP -17,113
    DUP – 32,721
    UUP – 15,145
    AP -10,025

    It may be that South Belfast is becoming ‘home ground’ to the SDLP and Alliance with SF and the DUP being unable to get more than one seat in that constituency in the future .

    With East Belfast solidly Unionist apart from the one AP seat and West Belfast even more solidly Republican and Nationalalist and South Belfast edging towards permanent non Unionst representation North Belfast will continue to be the political cockpit which will determine which ‘tribe’ controls Belfast .

    IMO those Unionists who came out to vote were made up of three disparate groups – those who voted for their party – either DUP or UUP and those who came out to vote to stop SF. Whether there will be a power sharing executive or not will depend on how many of the latter group are heard post election.

  • Observer

    “It may be that South Belfast is becoming ‘home ground’ to the SDLP and Alliance with SF and the DUP being unable to get more than one seat in that constituency in the future .”

    Greenflag

    I agree and disagree. McDonnell has built up a profile here and he may attract those non-DUP, but softly Unionist voters at the next Westminster election. However I’d be confident of a deal between the two Unionist parties.

    The DUP has demonstrated its power at this election and if the UUP had any sense they would do a deal for Fermanagh South Tyrone as South Belfast and FST demonstrate that in order to ‘oust’ nationalism from Westminster a deal needs to be done in the benefit of Unionism.

    However I wonder what impact Anna Lo would have if she stands for Westminster?

    Anyway, the DUP need to build up a base here with Spratt in preparation for 2008/09, maybe even autumn 2007!

    Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey did well with nearly 4,000 1st Prefs, an increase from 2003. He was expected to loose his seat at the expense to Alliance, however both pulled through.

    I’d watch Maskey and Sinn Fein in this constituency. I wouldn’t rule Sinn Fein out as we now enter a ‘new’ era after the Shinners intention to back to the police. If Maskey chnages his spots and keeps doing what hes doing McDonnell could well be under threat.

    As for Unionism … what’ll change?

    The UUP’s McGimpsey will hold on and indeed aim to run for Westminster.

    The UUP leadership is weakened and he may hold some weight in ruling over ‘one constituency over the other’.

  • Markkus

    Poor old Bob McCartney. I wonder if the word “dinosaur” is starting to occur to him. Stood in 6 consituencies, on an anti-agreement ticket – so far eliminated from 5 of them.

    “Launching his “anti-manifesto”, he had said it would be “absurd” to outline priorities for government when he would not be part of any administration.”

    The electorate evidently thought it would be absurd to vote for someone with no policies.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6434765.stm

  • Dessertspoon

    “The electorate evidently thought it would be absurd to vote for someone with no policies.”
    Not really they still vote for the DUP/SF/UUP/SDLP etc. At least Bob wasn’t pretending to have policies.