BBC NI political editor, Mark Devenport, calculates that the Alliance Party are in prime position to pick up the tenth, and final, ministerial position to be distributed under d’Hondt. Now that “the government” have been re-elected…
Steven Agnew’s last gasp victory for the Greens leaves Alliance on 8 seats – exactly half the Ulster Unionist total of 16.
Under the D’Hondt system the UUP gets one department, but when its turn comes for a second pick, its seats have half the value.
So it’s 8 versus 8. At this point the tie breaker is how many first preference votes each party received, with the UUP vote tally also being halved.
According to this method, Alliance is also ahead, so should take its first ministry before the UUP get a chance for a second.
That’s unless former UUP member David McClarty, who was elected as an independent after failing to be selected as a UUP candidate, can be persuaded to return to the fold.
And David McClarty isn’t giving anything away.
Btw, speculation that the new Green Party MLA, Steven Agnew, could also intervene is, I would suggest, ill-founded – given the 2006 NI Assembly Speaker’s ruling on the definition of a “political party” for the purposes of d’Hondt.
Adds Although he focuses elsewhere, Mark mentioned the same problem for the UUP.