DUP regaining confidence, or is there an election coming up?

Interesting quotes from Ian Paisley in the Newsletter this morning, who when asked to comment on the possibility that Sinn Fein might take the First Minister’s role had this to say:

“I don’t think there is going to be a day when the unionist parties will be so disordered that Sinn Fein will be the largest party. There has been a swing to unionism and I believe we’ll not have that.”

Checking the figures over at Ark, there is a noticeable Unionist swing when you compare 2009 voting percentages (U49%, N42.2%) with those in March 2007 Assembly elections (U45%, N41.4%) as a percentage, but there is virtually no change in the total figures between 2005 (U48.6%,N42.2%)and last year’s European elections. So the swing would seem to relate to the difference between a single seat constituency, and multiple fights, where unionism seems to do relatively poorly…

But the governing questions in the coming election will not so much lie in voting percentages so much as in the seat by seat battles. In only one is the TUV thought to have a chance of winning (the DUP are defending an 18,000 seat majority in North Antrim). In the rest they will run to inflict as much damage as they can muster, and possibly help ‘flip’ a seat out to the UUP/Conservatives…

Mick 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