In the event of a tie……Alliance Party votes count as double.

I have a lot of time for the Alliance Party. Most people have. Forty years of non sectarianism is no mean achievement. Of course they have made mistakes. I think that the “re-designation” fiasco might well have been their biggest and just about every Alliance person I have ever met agrees.

It was not their finest hour but they would say…..and I agree….that it was a decision made for the Common Good. Critically they have learned from it. They have a record of doing things for the Common Good. They would say thats the basis that they took the Justice Ministry. I dont go along with that….but theyve banked enough goodwill to be given the benefit of the doubt.

They are at worst ….harmless. They have done no harm over forty years to me and mine. Not many political parties can say that. They have their heart in the right place. On their sleeve. Inclined to be a bit “holier than thou” which is kinda ok because they are wonderfully easy to wind up.

No harm to me and mine. Or indeed to you and yours. That makes them at least worthy of a consideration when we enter the polling booth.

Of course people DO choose Alliance Party for much more positive reasons. They are a positive force. Voters give them that #1. But a trump card is that “they’ve dun me no harm” thing. That gets the #2s. And it didnt do Naomi Long any harm either.

They are for Fair Play. To make (say) two gains in the Assembly, they need to break new ground in (say) East Derry, North Belfast or Upper Bann. Only the latter is realistic. Or they need a second seat in East Antrim (very unlikely), East Belfast (possible) or North Down (also possible). Indeed if I was to identify the two most likely gains it would be East Belfast and North Down.

Now clearly Naomi Longs victory means two quotas are possible. But I think that most people would concede that she benefitted from some tactical voting to oust Peter Robinson. Some from UUP and some from SDLP and indeed others. I am sure Naomi Long appreciates that.

As Alliance canvassers knock on doors in unionist Bellmont, they may well be greeted by a UUP voter who will happily promise a #2 to Chris Lyttle or Judith Cochrane. After all Alliance Party have done them no harm.

They will happily accept it. Likewise the Alliance canvasser in Short Strand will get a cordial reception at a SDLP house. First preference promised to Magdalena Wolska but hey no problem with the #2 and #3. Naomi after all has done us no harm. We even voted for her last year. Fair dealers.

As Alliance canvassers go around Bangor West, they will encounter some SDLP voters. Second preference? Why not? Alliance have done us no harm and our guy isnt gonna win. Actually we gave Stephen Farry #2 in 2007. Just like 35% of SDLP voters. It elected him.

And in Groomsport , AP canvassers will discover some UUP people who gave Farry #2 last time. He was already elected. A second AP candidate? Yes why not. Alliance would not do any harm to UUP voters.

Alliance after all respect a mandate. Well maybe not in 2011. If they actually pick up nine seats (and two Execuive positions) on their fair play reputation and their “never done us any harm” #2 votes…that shows enormous lack of respect to UUP and SDLP voters who transfer to Alliance.

A scenario was put to an Alliance MLA last night. The Alliance Party gets nine seats in the Election and gets two seats on the Executive. The UUP get (lets say) seventeen seats but get one seat on the Executive. The SDLP gets (lets say) seventeen seats) and gets one seat.

In other words nine seats gets you two Departments and thirty four seats gets you two seats. The Justice Ministry being “outside” d’Hondt. The Alliance MLA seemed unsure of the response…a little embarrassed. Mainly it seemed like yes they would and David Ford is brilliant so he is.

A further scenario was put. That as Alliance votes are more valuable than UUP and SDLP votes…UUP and SDLP voters should perhaps not give transfers to the Alliance Party. And of course the same is true for the other parties.

Transferring to Alliance is cutting your own throat. Fair Play? Doing No Harm to me and mine or you and yours? It seems odd to ask for that crucial #2 votes from UUP and SDLP without indicating the consequence. “If your party of first choice gets twice as many seats as your party of second choice……your party of second choice gets twice as many seats”.

A hard sell in Belmont, Short Strand, Bangor West and Groomsport.

A bit shabby. But there seems to be a way out of this. David Ford got his Justice Department for the greater Common Good. Declining a second Department would also be in the greater Common Good. After all David Fords Alliance Party supports AV and would go further with proportionality.

Maybe its just a cunning plan devised by Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. The UUP and SDLP will voluntarily go into Opposition. There are three responses.

  1. Rules are Rules……as Trevor Lunn MLA said in another context last night. Alliance benefits. So what?  They are under no obligation to tell UUP & SDLP “first preference voters” of the consequences.
  2. A Declaration (private if they wish) that the Party would not take a second seat in such circumstances. The APs longstanding commitment to Fair Play, fair voting is paramount. UUP voters and SDLP voters can rest assured that giving a second preference in East Belfast and North Down or indeed anywhere else will not be used as a means of screwing the UUP and SDLP.
  3. Practical Politics. The UUP and SDLP running with this charge against Alliance……”DONT vote for them”, “Dont give them a second preference” will not help the Alliance Party and would actually limit their chances of getting that eighth or ninth seat. So sitting in an Assembly with nine MLAs and one Executive seat (Justice) seems a better prospect than seven seats and one Executive seat.

, ,

  • wild turkey

    Fitz J
    nice to see you posting again. a provactive and lucid analysis.

    one question. any practical suggestions how alliance can extend its vote beyond the Marks&Sparks crowd into Lidl territory?

    my only pragmatic connection with alliance is their early and ongoing support of integrated education. thats good enough for me.

  • pippakin

    Fjh

    A very good, thought provoking post. In the context of the north I also like the Alliance party, no harm, no foul indeed. If they are growing, and it does look as though they may be then they are surely allowed to be ambitious. If there is a little ambiguity, well where, in the context of the north, is the harm..

  • The Alliance Party are a bit more than a “no harm” party.

    At this moment, the are the only party which provides a significant vehicle which would enable Northern Ireland to move away from communal and sectarian politics. If they have an unfair advantage for any reason, great. The sooner they become the most popular Nothern Ireland party, the better.

  • Barry the Blender

    The Alliance are pointless.

  • pippakin

    Seymour Major

    I did not mean to suggest they were not, but of all the parties in the north I think Alliance have done the least harm. If they are growing that could be said to be a just reward.

  • otto

    Is Barry testing Fitz’s point about Alliance windupabilty?

  • separatesix

    Lidl? no self-respecting Alliance member would shop there, economic downturn or not.
    Can’t understand the likes of Paula Bradshaw and Harry Hamilton joining the Alliance party, they must have become very weak wooly watered-down unionists now.

  • aquifer

    It is hard to get excited about the piggy in the middle party, but the ‘costs of division’ bit could play and play.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    The Alliance Party. Why?

  • Zig70

    Just had Alliance on my doorstep, got the line that they will get enough for two executive seats (from 9 seats). I don’t think he caught the jist, but I think the crumb feeders will grab at two. Fair play to them for calling, first one I’ve ever had the pleasure to torture. The DUP did call but took one look at my 8yr old son’s school uniform when he answered the door, shoved the election guff in his hand and scarpered.

  • otto

    “The Alliance Party. Why?”

    £1Bn wasted on duplicated or redundant public provision.

    Untold waste on unproductive people and assets as we fail to invest in a broken society.

    Because an open and respectful sharing of diversity is more fun than misery-guts begrudgery.

    And because according to this – http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/marriage/ccmni1.htm#11
    even in 1990 c.20% of marriages in Down and Connor were cross-community with the numbers increasing every year in and lots of us mud-bloods and miscegenators aren’t at home with the with-us-or-against-us antics of the loony fringes.

    And more tangibly

    1. A shared education system
    2. A shared approach to language rights
    3. A shared justice system
    4. Healthy and constructive relations with all our neighbours
    5. A civilised and open debate about constitutional choices
    6. Reduced corporation tax
    7. A realistic approach to public finance
    8. Constructive weighted-majority community protection rather than divisive and unnecessary designation

    But perhaps what Alliance most clearly brings is a place for more diverse competencies to make a contribution to public service – whether it’s one of the few civil engineers in Westminster or a Justice Minister that comes from a social work rather than an adversarial background.

    Which means more considered competent government.

    Seeing as we’re talking about government and not a never ending border referendum what are the other parties for?

  • Seymour Major,
    “If they have an unfair advantage for any reason, great”.
    This of course falls into the category of it doesnt matter about “fairness”. “Rules is Rules” but that seems a hard sell on SDLP and UUP doorsteps………an entirely legitimate point of view of course.
    But is an obvious admission that it isnt fair.
    “Wild Turkey” has an interest in integrated education….with which I one dabbled (not entirely successfully) and as this is an iconic Alliance issue, certainly for many worth a vote on this issue alone……..but that is dependent on the AP being successful. As their brand image is very much to do with fairness rather than shabbiness, the AP project can be set back…..at best a short term gain.
    The cute hoorism advocated by Seymour Major has to be avoided on the doorsteps in 2010 and defended in 2014.

    “Otto” gives us a long list of Alliance achievements but like all Alliance people cant actually defend against the point of the thread.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Interesting post, though this won’t be a bogey-man to lose Alliance any votes.

    On the question of what do Alliance stand for, the answer is clear. Replace the NI history of absolutism with an absolute belief in free trade and that what is economically good, is good. Like every other party except God at least won’t making the laws, as a certain FM prefers.

    If you prefer your liberalism with a dash of religion, you’re part of a dying breed. Alliance is probably the future, though it doesn’t look very bright.

  • Pete Baker

    An argument for taking a ministry under d’Hondt as well as Justice would be that Justice is only an initial 1-year appointment.

    Any agreed change to that appointment process could alter the situation.

  • otto

    Fitz

    Perhaps you could tell us why the UUP and SDLP decided to leave OFM and DFM positions out of the D’Hondt process in the first executive? The effect was to give each an extra two “unearned” positions (when the junior ministers’ positions are included).

    For what its worth I think cross-community collaboration needs to take precedent over D’Hondt if we’re going to have shared projects such as devolution of justice, let alone shared programs for all departments. So parties representing more than 60% of the assembly, or with cross-community support so long as designation continues, should have first pick of ministries to facilitate such cross-community projects so long as their total draw doesn’t exceed their combined ministerial entitlement under D’Hondt. The (utopian?) ideal would be a universally shared program for government which allocated the ministries without the need for D’Hondt.

    In the event that D’Hondt is needed all 15 ministerial positions (including OFM, DFM and the junior ministries) should count as draw down on a party’s entitlement.

    That would have given SF, DUP and United Community 68% of the ministries at the start of the last assembly or up to 10 positions so long as agreement was reached on all. If agreement can only be reached on one (Justice for example) D’Hondt proper should kick in after that position (and the OFM and DFM positions) is filled.

    That clear enough for you?

  • tinman

    Although if Alliance decline a second ministry on ‘fair play’ grounds and the sunset clause comes into effect in a year’s time, couldn’t they be left with no ministry at all?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Maybe the ministry could be shared, rotated or even handed to another neutral party.

  • IJP

    As ever, you write an interesting piece, but as commenters have pointed out it will have no bearing whatsoever on the electorate.

    Firstly, you are assuming they are, by and large, well enough acquainted with the technicalities to understand what you are talking about in the first place. The fact that most public affairs consultants would struggle with it probably demonstrates the fallacy there.

    Secondly, even if they do understand your argument, it doesn’t actually make any sense for them to change behaviour. Ultimately, for example, an SDLP voter in Bangor West voting 2-Wilson is saying that they would prefer an Alliance Minister (and indeed MLA) to a Unionist one. Well, why wouldn’t they? The fact that Alliance effectively has a one Minister head start is really neither here nor there.

    Thirdly, the SDLP gained similarly in the past (24 seats were worth 5 Ministers in 1998; yet 20 seats for the DUP got it just 2), with the extra 2 Ministers coming from a cross-community vote just like Alliance’s 1 extra Minister does now.

    If the Minister had proved fundamentally incompetent, the SDLP may have a point. As it is, the SDLP’s position amounts to saying they don’t care how competent the Minister is, it should come from another party (or even from England). That’s just silly – and it remains to be seen what some first-preference Alliance voters think of it when it comes to their later preferences.

  • Yes Otto, your position is very clear. Cross Community takes precedence over d’Hondt ……or mandates. So why not just appoint an Executive with just Alliance people in it. Brilliant stuff.

  • otto

    “So why not just appoint an Executive with just Alliance people in it.”

    If that had cross-community support why not? And I’ve states that total ministries awarded shouldn’t exceed total mandate – it’s the order of allocation that needs to be adjusted to allow cross-community co-operation.

    You haven’t answered Ian’s point (or mine) that the SDLP took advantage of cross-community rules to give themselves an extra two seats in the first executive.

  • granni trixie

    FJH: where do I start?I have been in APNI since 1972 when we thought we would grow bigger as people would see the sense of our message (recognise,to address, sectarianism and to change to a shared, not divided society where people could be who they are). A cultural analysis you might say alongside structural change. We declined from 15%?,learning how a small party can be, nevertheless, influential. What a slow process.

    I would argue that we have been effective in exerting influence, infact punching above our weight. I would feel however that I had wasted my energy if all I had done was be ‘no harm to anyone’.(was this the windup?). But at this time of night after a day of labelling and canvassing, cannot say more (but may return to this thread).

    +Lets get something straight – I for one go to Andytown Lydl most Thursdays,servicing two favourites (infact my daughter is similarly addicted to hers in Brighton. In the genes?). To be more serious, I imagine the point is that Alliance ought to be proactive in bringing their message beyond their usual class base. Agreed.

    +Seymour – couldnt have said it better myself – once again, join us!

  • IJP makes better points particuarly the third one……..but
    It will only have no bearing on the Electorate if the Electorate are not informed.
    Dont we have a duty to inform?
    Or keep them in the dark.?
    Clearly the Alliance Party is not gonna turn up at a Short Strand or Groomsport house and point to the small print in the voter-politician contract.
    “Vote for me…..we support water charges” isnt the opening gambit.
    So I dont expect they would be told….yes youre voting SDLP #1 but dont worry we are a safe pair of hands….vote for us to get two departments….cos deep down youre sectarian and in the AP we arent and youd prefer us to one of them unionists cos youre not interested in fairness”.
    Of course the thing is the UUP and SDLP might actually respect each others mandate.
    IJP implies that public affairs consultants are smarter than the Electorate. Hmmmm…..Im sayin nuttin.
    But would their behaviour be different if they were aware? Well of course a good way to find out would be to tell them. Its patronising and rather unpleasant to assume the AP knows whats best for people….that AP “non sectarianism” (to which I hope I have given full credit in my original post) can undemocratically trump the rights of the UUP for example.
    To take this a step further.
    1. Alliance have seven seats and would be delighted with nine. Can we agree on that?
    2 Indeed many moderates OUTSIDE Alliance core voters would welcome an increase in Alliance representation. Agreed?
    3 There are six safe Alliance seats. As Nicholas Whyte has pointed out in another thread, Strangford….represented by the excellent Kieran McCarthy is vulnerable.
    Agreed?
    4 There is no reason why AP and SDLP (for example) cant both take a seat in Strangford.
    Agreed?
    5 Would it help or hinder Kieran McCarthy if the SDLP and UUP pointed up the small print?
    It would be a shame to lose Kieran McCarthy but it seems a fair price to maintain integrity.
    6 Second seats in North Down and East Belfast can only be won with transfers. is it not a slap in the face to UUP and SDLP voters to win a seat on their approval and then claim a second seat as of right?

    But its not good enough to say that voters (a) dont know (b) dont understand and (c) wouldnt care.
    Enough would.
    And Alliance shouldnt take the risk.

  • Granni Trixie……..welcome to the thread.
    Nope it wasnt a wind up.
    I said that the Alliance was “at worst harmless” which surely implies that they have done many more positive things. I pointed out that the first reason people properly vote for AP is that they are fair dealers. The second reason being “no harm done”.
    And you will even note that my first sentence stipulated that 40 years of non sectarianism IS an achievement.
    So come on now…play fair…….dont be so selective about that “no harm done” remark.
    Its a legitimate point.
    Just a few weeks ago, you pointed out that you were promised a #2 vote from an SDLP house and a DUP house next door.
    Thats actually a compliment to AP. They selected their own party based on principles and self interest and then chose AP. Good for them.
    But at a SDLP or UUP house tomorrow night you wont be pointing out the small print.

    You will know from your experience……..and I will know from mine……individuals and parties in this election who have sought to do me harm. In all kinds of ways. Who would limit my opportunities in life….possibly even limit my life itself.
    When I go into a polling booth I may well be inclined to think of those parties and individuals (subject to the passing of time dulling some pain) who have hurt and I might well be inclined to think of those parties who have not hurt me.
    I suspect that if youd canvassed me and Id said “shure why not yiz have dun me no harm. You can have my #2″……youd be as pleased as punch.
    Would you say “sir I refuse to accept your #2 vote for such negative reasons”? No you wouldnt.
    But on this issue of the second seat….Alliance is seeking to make a virtue out of something that Seymour major suggests is unfair AND good. And you agree. Thats shameful.
    In this instance you are seeking to limit peoples rights…their mandate.
    Of course IJP might well be right. Voters dont know, dont understand, dont care and are not as smart as public relations consultants. …………so lets shout the consequences of voting AP #2 loud and clear.
    Getting those votes is nothing to be ashamed of……is it?

  • otto

    Fitz,

    If your point is that Alliance shouldn’t take more than one ministry without more than seven seats I agree (provided there’s a full term’s tenure in the Justice position as highlighted by Pete and Tinman above).

    If you believe (as the SDLP insist) that Alliance aren’t entitled to a ministry at all with only seven seats I disagree. 108/15 = 7 and the only reason the 4 OFM/DFM ministries aren’t counted in the d’Hondt share out is the result of the self-serving SDLP/UUP stitch-up.

    If you believe Alliance should wait their turn for whatever ministry they get I disagree again. Cross-community partnership needs to take precedence over d’Hondt and whether the leading parties agree a joint program on justice, roads or farming we need to facilitate that agreement by letting them control (within overall d’Hondt allowance) the ministries needed to deliver.

  • I actually thought my point was extremely clear.
    If the Alliance believe they can and should take two Executive seats (inside or outside d’hondt) with 9 MLAs …it would be plain daft for the SDLP and UUP voters to help them to do that as it minimises their mandates.
    I dont expect any AP partisan to agree that its unfair.
    What I do expect is an acknowledgement that getting to that 9 seats is almost impossible without a degree of goodwill that UUP and SDLP voters are often happy to give.

    Theres precious little I can do about it. Except of course shine a light on it. And hope that enough others do the same.
    Whether the AP gets 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 seats………Im sure we all agree that the voters need to know the consequence of their actions…….not least for the parties they actually support.

  • Granni Trixie

    The Alliance Party will certainly get my vote in the forthcoming elections. No other party comes near in terms of alternative consideration. The fact of one of Alliance’s opponents writing this post is an indication that they are a party on an upward trend.

    Voting is an easy decision but getting me to become a member of the Alliance party is a different matter. That could yet happen. Before it does, I will have reached a conclusion that the Conservative Party has little or no chance of becoming an effective force for good in Northern Ireland politics. I haven’t completely that journey just yet. Thank you for the invitation, anyway.

  • separatesix

    That surprises me Zig70 I thought the DUP were trying to appeal to all. Sinn Fein are canvassing all over even in places they are traditionally weak, surely the DUP should be allowed to canvass in the Westwood Centre without intimidation.

  • DC

    “Vote for me…..we support water charges” isnt the opening gambit.

    And what’s the opening gambit for the SDLP – vote for me we will back everything and support every public service.

    Have you ever been on Conall McDevitt’s facebook page? He supports everything under the sun, despite failing to answer where the money is coming from.

    In so doing the conclusion to draw from the SDLP at this moment is that given half a chance they would spread public money out across all sorts of services and in so doing ruin their effective delivery. It’s called dissipation i.e ‘wasteful expenditure or consumption’.

    A year or so down the line it leads to crumbling public services because money hasn’t been targeted properly in the right areas.

    I’m afraid to say some services will have to fall by the wayside because there is no money left, but at least with water charges it may limit the number of public services that eventually do.

  • Exactly DC. All politicians will “accentuate the positive , eliminate the negative” as the song says.
    Specifically with the Alliance, they arent gonna say “hi Im your Alliance candidate, I want to tell you about the joys of water charges”.
    More likely he/she will play to undoubted strengths..integrated education, anti-sectarian record and a host of other things…

    But as youve pointed out above, an informed voter like yourself will know of the downside to any partys policy. Or indeed the four other main parties will attempt to keep voters informed of the “downs” in other platforms.
    We do after all vote for a package which in our view has more good than bad for us And the really informed voter will know which items in the wish list are totemic rather than practical).
    I merely make the point that for SDLP and UUP voters there is a downside for their own party of choice if they give Alliance a second preference.
    So lets keep the voters informed.
    Let Leslie Cree, Colin Breen and Liam Logan in North Down tell their supporters of the consequences of voting for AP #2.
    Let Philip Robinson, Michael Copeland and Magdalena Wolska do the same in East Belfast. And Joe Boyle, David McNarry and Mike Nesbitt do it in Strangford. (and the consequences of giving McCarthy #1).
    Entirely reasonable isnt it? Informing voters?
    Lets be frank…..Chris Lyttle, Judith Cochrane, Anne Wilson, Stephen Farry and Kieran McCarthy wont be mentioning it.

  • DC

    Fitzjames

    My only concern is that for the less-informed voter they might see the likes of Conall McDevitt as some sort of god-send and champion of public services.

    Whereas being more informed I know that the SDLP cannot honour all the stances taken by him in favour of this and that and therefore it is just cheap populism.

    The flipside applies to Alliance as with water charges there will be an expense but it is at least realistic, rather than dollops of cheap populism and PR belches by Conall McDevitt – the champion of everything.

    There’s an old saying that a person that defends everything defends nothing.

  • Then its our common duty to make our concerns known.
    Keeping the voters informed of the consequence of their actions.

  • IJP

    The consequences of Logan supporters voting UUP before AP would simply be a UUP Minister rather than an AP one. Why would they want that, if AP is actually their second preference?

    Likewise, I guess, your logic is that AP supporters should transfer to the DUP and SF before the UUP and SDLP, even if they prefer the UUP and SDLP.

    It just doesn’t make sense!

  • Well I didnt actually say that SDLP supporters should vote or transfer to UUP. I merely pointed out that they would be mad to vote or transfer to Alliance.
    There cant be much wrong with voting UUP……not so long since you were one yourself and youre still not officially Alliance.
    The issue is fairness.
    A party with 17 seats beats a party with 9 seats.
    Doubly so if there are two parties with 17 seats.
    AP supporters must determine themselves what is in their best interests.
    Its clearly not in SDLP or UUP supporters interest to boost AP.

  • granni trixie

    FJH: I entirely agree that strategic voting makes sense – but only to anoraks or active members. I do not think you could canvass the general public or even a partys supporters to vote right down the list in a particular order. It would seem presumptious – people have been educated in art of compromising when they vote down the list.

  • And strategicaly it would be daft for SDLP or UUP supporters to gift AP an Executive seat.

  • otto

    So suppose, Fitz, that I’m a middle class Catholic voter in North Down. I’m living in Bangor West or Ballyholme. I send my kids to St Pat’s or maybe Sullivan.

    I plan to give my first preference to Liam but there’s no real prospect of him getting in so I think I’ll next back local St Pat’s boy Stephen Farry or maybe Anne Wilson, our councillor Brian’s wife.

    You show up at my door and tell me I should really be thinking about giving my second preference to Leslie Cree or maybe Alan McFarland instead because if Alliance get that extra seat for Anne Wilson they might get an extra executive seat and “s’not fair”.

    What do I care? Will it be Alliance’s support for the Irish language development, legislation on flags, sensible transfer procedures or impartial and effective policing that I’m supposed to worry about?

    It might look to me like the SDLP worry more about their ministerial salaries than advancing impartial competent government. I might even think that the SDLP care more about playing the sectarian “David Ford’s a prod” card in South Down and Derry than cementing good relations in the mixed community I live in.

    Why is the extra executive seat for Alliance such an injustice when Sinn Fein have five times as many executive places as the SDLP with only 75% more MLA’s? Is the SF situation ok because that ‘s the system the SDLP set up to serve themselves and although its backfired they can hardly cry about it now?

  • Otto, my point is that voters be aware of the consequence of their votes for any party……including the effect on their party of first choice if they give a second preference vote for Alliance or in any way help get AP to the nine seat threshold.
    I accept the logic of Sinn Féin or DUP having more executive seats than the SDLP or UUP. Theyve got more votes
    I dont accept the logic of Alliance Party having more than SDLP or UUP. They have fewer votes. You do accept that “logic”.

  • granni trixie

    FJH: Clearly I am not communicating to you the point that the practicalities of “getting” voters to vote strategically in the interests of their first preference are immense. You would really be asking them to sacrifice their compromise candidate (say APNI) further down the list in the interests of the party which is their first choice,say SDLP or UUP . These parties would then have to put resources into a campaign of educating people on what they are trying to do, crucially, offering a rationale for this kind of strategic voting.

    You need to get out more. Like “on the doorsteps. If you did you would find that there is a small window (a minute?) to say something lasting to potiential voters.It can be an encouraging or even a fraught experience. Does it influence people? Maybe. I do believe however that the quality of the exchange is what matters in tipping people to vote (along with other forms of getting the message out, media presentation of the parties parties and personalities being the most important element).

    Practically I do not see how you would get people to put aside the option of compromise candidates to vote strategically down the list beause of a Partys agenda to keep other partys at bay.

  • granni trixie

    oops..for parties read policies.

  • Granni Trixie.
    Actually we are communicating very well.
    Just to make the point further. (and Im indebted to ARK for this as its not the kinda stat I have to hand).
    In 2007 the Alliance Party got over 36,000 votes.
    SDLP and UUP got over 100,000.
    Lets assume in 2011 Alliance get 50,000 and crucially pick up East Belfast & North Down.
    Lets assume that SDLP and UUP get 100,000 each (lets say 17 seats each).
    Its your position as I understand it that the most likely make up of the next Executive…….is 2 AP seats and 1 seat each for the UUP & SDLP.
    In other words 50,000 AP votes carries the same weight as 200,000 votes for SDLP/UUP.
    Now its a bit Jesuitical to claim “ah yes but one of our seats is outside d’hondt”.
    The position is that its cute hoorism which would make the AP (5th largest party with voters) the 3rd largest in the Executive.
    Shameful. Gerrymandering which a simple declaration we would not do such a thing. We would not actually ask SDLP or UUP voters to help us across the line in two constituencies, merely to do that.
    Its arrogant of AP to think….yeah but they dont need to know the technicalities.
    Perhaps AP has changed so much that they are prepared to think of DUP/SF as their new friends and SDLP/UUP as their new enemies.

    It is APs call. Aside from all other issues, theres very practical politics involved.
    9 seats and 2 Executive seats might just look a little greedy and the reality could be 7 and 1 (again!) or…….and that just might make 9 and 1 a pretty good compromise.

  • granni trixie

    FJH:We will have to agree to differ (again).

    But can I also clarify something. Whereas I am upfront in in saying that I see things with an Alliacne bias, do you claim to be a ‘neutral observer’? (yes,yes I know you said some of your friends are Green, but that is ambiguous.Some of mine are in many other parties, including Green. I can claim Arlene Foster as a friend and I admire how she does her job. But I wouldn’t vote DUP). Where do you stand,the medium being the message and explaining some of your preoccupations.

  • oh Granni we agree much more often than we differ.
    I have indeed often thought you had an Alliance bias. Its never bothered me.
    A careful trawl thru 17 months posts will show that I have taken stances which were somewhat “independent” rather than linked to any Party.
    Hopefully I have rattled every political cage.
    Youve not been bothered much about it before……I am surprised you are bothered now.
    Like yourself I have friends in many parties. It is a consequence of living a normal life.

  • DC

    If Alliance Party votes count as double to the voter that must surely act as an incentive to vote for that party, than a disincentive?

  • Sean Og

    Gerrymandering! Let’s call a spade a spade.

    All Alliance have to do is say they will only take one Ministry if the situation FJH outlines pans out.

  • Well yes DC…….but only if you support the Alliance Party. So get out there and tell the voters the “good news”. Why keep it quiet?
    Sean Og……as I pointed out in my original post…..Alliance could actually do themselves a favour by making a public declaration (or indeed give a private assurance to UUP and SDLP) that they would not takea second seat with just nine seats.
    That would actually encourage SDLP and UUP to give them the nod and wink the AP needs in say North Down.
    My position is that the Alliance Party are actually better than this.
    As they themselves would agree “re-designation” (a decision made for the Common Good and/or Confidence) was possibly the worst decision they ever made.
    They could argue and have argued….in part successfully…..that taking the Justice Ministry served the Common Good.

    A decision made in the Common Good might be that nine seats does not warrant two executive seats.
    Gerrymandered. Or just cute hoorism but it doesnt suit them and its uncomfortable alongside their decent track record.
    And importantly…..those critical two extra seats (about which UUP and SDLP moderates who dont choose AP first would be happy enough) are less likely with the “rules is rules” stance that seems to be accepted by AP members. Very short-sighted.

  • granni trixie

    FJH: Alliance has often been seen to punch above its numerical strength. Although not much into praying (since 1984 to be exact), this year when I see things going more its way, I raise my eyes to heaven thinking, “there is a God”.This includes being given a fairer crack of the whip as regards media coverage. Some of this is down to good luck and circumstance but trust it is not immodest to
    say that advances we are making are due to previous hard work and having built trust.

    Yur faux argumenting does nothing to diminish the encouragement I feel at this turn of events.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fjh,

    Alliance could actually do themselves a favour by making a public declaration (or indeed give a private assurance to UUP and SDLP) that they would not takea second seat with just nine seats.

    The UUP and SDLP are badly organized, have incoherent policies, and incompetently led. They certainly don’t seem to be interested in being serious about the business of governing effectively rather than playing politics. Accordingly I don’t believe they should have any seats on the Executive at all.

    The UUP and SDLP are the parties who, together, designed a political system which was designed to exclude Alliance along with anyone else unwilling to go along with the notion of community designations and so on. If those two parties drop the ball – and they have – there should be no compunction whatsoever in Alliance taking it.

    A decision made in the Common Good might be that nine seats does not warrant two executive seats.

    I’d expect that Alliance would be more than happy to take that position in the context of a renegotiation of d’Hondt and the designation system.

    And importantly…..those critical two extra seats (about which UUP and SDLP moderates

    I asked you this question before, but you didn’t answer it. Why do you think the UUP are “moderates”, what exactly distances them from the DUP in that respect ? Likewise the SDLP, what exactly is there outside of tradition that separates them from SF today ?

    who dont choose AP first would be happy enough) are less likely with the “rules is rules” stance that seems to be accepted by AP members. Very short-sighted.

    I don’t think things will work that way at all. There is no way that SDLP voters can stop Alliance obtaining the justice ministry, that decision is in the hands of DUP/SF. I really don’t think Alliance’s seat gains, if they materialize the way the party hopes, will be dependent on SDLP transfers either. We’ll know soon enough.