Nicholas Whyte reviews the Assembly result

As usual Nicholas Whyte provides the most comprehensive review of what actually happened when all the votes were counted. He has kindly given permission for Slugger to carry his thoughts.

He also has brief comments on each individual constituency here. Everything below comes from Nicholas:

Assembly results – my considered take #ae11 – Nicholas Whyte

Twelve seats out of 108 changed hands in terms of party representation, which is actually the same number as in 2007, though the shifts were a bit more evenly distributed:

  • The DUP gained four (two from the UUP, one each from SF and the SDLP) and lost two (to the UUP).
  • Sinn Féin gained two (from the SDLP and UUP) and lost one (to the DUP).
  • The SDLP lost three (to the DUP, SF and TUV) and gained one (from Kieran Deeny, who did not stand again).
  • The UUP gained two (from the DUP) and lost four (two to the DUP, one to SF and one to an independent).
  • Alliance gained the seat won by the PUP in 2007
  • Jim Allister of the TUV took an SDLP seat.
  • David McClarty, formerly of the UUP, deprived that party of its seat.

The two closest results, as far as I can tell, were SF’s gain of their third Fermanagh-South Tyrone seat from the SDLP by 62 votes, and the Greens’ retention of their seat in North Down despite an Alliance challenge (by 99 votes with 62 from an Alliance surplus undistributed). All others seem to have been decided by several hundred. (I will grind through the counts later to see if there are any other interesting nuggets there.)

Unionists collectively make a net gain of one seat and Nationalists lose one, essentially because of boundary changes in the four county Antrim seats (including Lagan Valley) combined with the Alliance gain in East Belfast and the SDLP taking back the West Tyrone seat. I had expected that Nationalists might pick up another couple in Strangford and South Down, but somehow the votes were not there (the SDLP failing to make the gain in both cases).

  • It was a decent election for the DUP, whose first preference share was down a smidgeon (from 30.1% to 30.0% – all vote comparisons here are with 2007 Assembly results except where otherwise noted) but managed to turn that into their best performance in terms of seats (up two to 38).
  • It was a good election for SF, whose vote share went up from 26.2% to 26.9% and made a net gain of two seats, up to 29.
  • It was an awful election for the SDLP, whose vote share went down from 15.2 to 14.2%, the lowest share for any election since the 1973 council elections, with a loss of two seats, down to 14.
  • Similarly it was an awful election for the UUP, whose vote share was also down from 14.9% to 14.2%, the party’s lowest vote share ever, and who also lost two seats to finish on 16, probably depriving them of one of their two ministerial positions. The only crumb of comfort is that they still hold more seats than the SDLP.
  • Alliance had a good election, up from 5.2% to 7.7%, their best result since the Westminster election of 1997, and gaining an eighth seat which probably means a ministry, though will be frustrated to have missed a second gain in North Down by a narrow margin.
  • The TUV vote is down again – from 13.7% in the 2009 European election, to 4.3% in the 2010 Westminster election, to 2.5% this time. Jim Allister won a seat in North Antrim on the final count, but none of his colleagues made much of an impact.
  • The Greens’ vote was almost halved, from 1.7% to 0.9%, but they just managed to hold their seat, narrowly beating the wife of their own outgoing MLA who was the second Alliance candidate.
  • Of the other small groups, the People Before Profit Alliance made some impact in both Foyle and West Belfast but were not quite in the zone; UKIP had one good result in South Down; the PUP failed to keep their seat in East Belfast (as did their former leader, running as an independent in the same constituency); none of the others is really worth mentioning.

One other net gain that should be noted is that the new Assembly has twenty female members, two more than were elected in 2007 and five more than the outgoing legislature, the party totals being 8 Sinn Féin (27.6% of their MLAs), 5 DUP (13.2%), three SDLP (21.4%), two UUP (12.5%) and two Alliance (25%). Unionists are (rather slowly) catching up here, with seven of the twenty compared to four out of eighteen in the previous election.

I’m doing more BBC radio and TV commentary on the election over lunchtime but not completely sure of the details!

,

  • Nordie Northsider

    If the late lamented Horseman were still with us he might be disappointed to see so little evidence of that demographic shift to Nationalism. SF still appear to be a long way off in target constituencies like Upper Bann and East Derry.

  • alan56

    Will be interesting to see what happens on the UUP front. Will McClarty rejoin and will Tom Elliot survive as leader?

  • Dewi

    I must admit I thought Lady S’s support would have got Independents in in North Down…and Nic I hate to question the geek’s geek but the boundary change assumptions for Strangford can not be correct….

  • Are the count-by-count details published anywhere?

    I’d like to calculate the vote shares at the end (election or elimination) after transfers, to get an idea of soft support for parties (2nd and lower choices). First preference shares don’t tell us everything.

  • Brian Walker

    It would be interesting to have Nicholas’s analysis of dfferential turnout, unionist/nationlist, east/west and anything to say about the transfer pattern within the blocs – ie is there plumping to deny bloc rivals a seat?
    Anything on cross community transfers? Voting pattern for Alliance – cross community or new unionist party?

  • Gopher

    Strangford was a pretty easy one to call the SDLP only made it close in 2007 with unionist transfers which wernt going to be there this time. The lack of a green and other independants meant Kieran was a certainty.

    I’m not sure SF will be exactly overjoyed with the result as there aint much slack left in the system statistically for them.

    The SDLP and UU on the other hand have plenty of slack in the system but niether have the courage or inteligence to tap into it. Which is good news for Alliance and the DUP who wont have any predators and will run more candidates next time round.

  • Sean o Russell

    ■The DUP gained four (two from the UUP, one each from SF and the SDLP) and lost two (to the UUP).

    dup,uup,sf,sdlp,uup …. Animal farm…. it’s only a coma now….fine gael,fail,socialist workers party,sfwp,labour,mep,
    td…..

  • Just one small correction and a couple of additions:

    1) SF only up one seat net (as I say up top but slipped lower down)

    2) SDLP were runners up in seven out of eighteen constituencies (DUP 3, UUP 3, SF 2, Alliance 1, others 2; includes SDLP, DUP and SF internal contests.)

    3) a crucial elimination in East Antrim – Alliance’s Gerardine Mulvenna elimated thanks to a 59-vote margin vs the UUP runner; could Alliance have kept S out, had it been the other way round?

  • JAH

    After 50 years of Unionist rule are we going to get…50 years of DUP/SF rule? Does the Ulster mindset prefer a benign Govt roughly representing most people rather than a confrontational Westminster setup? Or does it just want a long period of stability?

  • If the late lamented Horseman were still with us he might be disappointed to see so little evidence of that demographic shift to Nationalism

    You, as did Horseman, confuse *demographic* (ie *sectarian*)shift with change in the Unionist/Nationalist voting dynamic.

    I think Nicholas Whyte would confirm that the total % difference in the total amount actually voting Unionist/Nationalist has remained pretty much constant since 2000/1.

    The “sectarian” demographics have undoubtedly changed in certain areas in that period but are not being reflected where it matters, at the ballot box.

    Whilst Sinn Fein remains in its present form with its present leadership, its present inability to move beyond communalism and its present attitutude towards the past crimes of the Republican movement, I suspect that dichotomy will remain.

  • Comrade Stalin

    3) a crucial elimination in East Antrim – Alliance’s Gerardine Mulvenna elimated thanks to a 59-vote margin vs the UUP runner; could Alliance have kept S out, had it been the other way round?

    Nick, wouldn’t it be more likely that the redistributed UUP votes would have brought in that 4th DUP candidate ? I can’t see the numbers for each count (hoping you’ll put them up on your site once you’ve had a bit of rest!) but I was fairly sure the DUP were in with a chance of doing it.

  • “UUP, whose vote share was also down from 14.9% to 14.2%”

    Is that an ‘awful’ typo, Nicholas? 😉 UTV claims a drop to 13.2%.

  • granni trixie

    Brian re transfers and Alliance: dont know how representative it is,but based on my impression from tallying at the Kings Hall, Anna Lo got votes from all over plus her above the quota votes seemed to be redistributed mainly to SDLP and UU – crucial to the outcome.

  • How valid are conclusions based on relatively small changes in party share of the vote when the electorate increased by 10%(?) and the turnout fell by about 10%?

  • Dewi

    What is apparent is that the proportionality of the electoral process is a little messed up this time – UUP with 2 more seats than SDLP with 1% less first preferences, DUP with a whopping 9 more seats than SF with 3% more of the vote. I don’t quite get that to be honest – is it transfer inefficiency or just a fluke of the boundaries?

  • Dewi

    Even more starkly DUP, UUP combined percentage 43.2%, SF, SDLP combined 41.1%. Seats 54 to 43! Strange.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dewi, it sounds a bit like nationalists are collectively bad at vote management; unionists probably transfer to each other more even when they hate each other.

  • Dewi makes an interesting point,
    “UUP with 2 more seats than SDLP with 1% less first preferences, DUP with a whopping 9 more seats than SF with 3% more of the vote”

    Don’t think it’s boundaries or VM or transfer friendly issues – would be interested in some detailed commentary on this point. Nic where are you? 🙂

  • Light23

    The Unionist/Nationalist split is more like 47/41 if you include David McClarty, BNP, UKIP, PUP, and the TUV.

  • Politico68

    oneill

    ‘I think Nicholas Whyte would confirm that the total % difference in the total amount actually voting Unionist/Nationalist has remained pretty much constant since 2000/1. ‘

    I am not sure about the percentages and I know that Nicholas would have a far better aptitude for this then my good self, but I have been doing some number crunching. In terms of just numbers the gap between those who vote for the Unionist ‘block’ and those who vote for the Nationalist ‘block’ is narrowing very quickly.

    I have tried to include as many independants and small parties in the calculations such as Ind Unionists and RSF for example.

    2003: U – 354k / N – 288k. Diff 66k
    2007: U – 334k / N – 293k. Diff 41k
    2010W: U – 322 / N – 286K. Diff 36k
    2011: U – 309k / N – 277k. Diff 32k

    you can see that even within one year between 2010 and 2011 there was a small but significant narrowing again. I think this is interesting but it will take a better man to give a proper analysis of what it may mean for the future.

    I have used BBC/UTV and some of Nicolas Stats for this calculation. hope thats ok.

  • Light23

    Or maybe I’m mistaken and you were commenting on that.

  • Light23

    *weren’t. Jesus. Ability to edit comments plz 😛

  • Mr Crumlin

    Is this the first time that the combined unionist vote has gone below 50% (although I am willing to agree that the APNI vote is all but unionist)?

  • PaddyReilly

    I wonder if Nationalists, and more specifically Centrists, should consider whether they are not in the same position as a donkey with a carrot suspended in front of it.

    At Westminster, Unionist representation continually goes down: for Stormont, the Unionist vote sinks to around 47%, yet Unionist representation actually rises? Why is this? On the whole Unionists were much more prone to run too many candidates. That this might happen once, we can dismiss as a freak of the electoral system: that Unionists can over more than a decade retain a tiny majority (in Stormont) while their voting percentages and Westminster representation are declining suggests that the Stormont mechanism has been attenuated.

    I am impressed by oneill’s statement “Whilst Sinn Fein remains in its present form with its present leadership, its present inability to move beyond communalism and its present attitude towards the past crimes of the Republican movement, I suspect that dichotomy will remain”.

    This should be contrasted with NW’s observation that the SDLP were runners up in 7/18 constituencies. So SF commits the sin, but SDLP are punished for it! Why is this? What occurs to me is that the SDLP are not as good as SF in watching their ballot boxes. It would only require a tiny amount of fraud in Strangford and North Antrim for this effect to be achieved. All the Nationalist loss occurred in constituencies where Unionists are in the majority. The only Nationalist gain was in East Antrim by SF, who presumably were keeping an eagle eye on the proceedings.

  • markbelfast

    I think that the election could’ve been alot better for Sinn Féin and alot worse for the SDLP.

    Sinn Féin were unfortunate not to managed their vote better in Mid-Ulster and especially Upper Bann where they polled the most amount of 1st preference votes for a political party in that constituency, but yet they only ended up with 1 MLA (John O’Dowd). O’Dowd’s running mate, Johnny McGibbon, actually came in 4th in 1st preference votes, 1,500 votes ahead of the Ulster Unionist candidates, but resulted in not even getting elected. Also, West Tyrone was also possibly a missed opportunity if you were being optimistic.

    As for the SDLP, they were fortunate not to have done worse. McDevitt was extremely fortunate to have gotten in for the SDLP in South Belfast where it was very close with Ruth Patterson of the DUP.

    Dolores Kelly was also fortunate to have gotten in for the SDLP in Upper Bann as she was originally behind Sinn Féin’s Johnny McGibbon (although slightly) but it was transfers from the Alliance’s Harry Hamilton that got her elected. Also, Alban Maginness struggled through in North Belfast aswell as Joe Byrne just about getting in for the SDLP in West Tyrone.

    The election is already seen as being rather dissapointing for the SDLP with the Party having no representation in Co. Antrim and losing long-timer Tommy Gallagher in Fermanagh-South Tyrone and Sinn Féin reducing the gap between them and the SDLP in Foyle.

    Political analysist Brian Feeney, although he has in for the SDLP and is ever critical of them, he made these points repeatedly in the UTV Election Special Programme today and it is the truth.

    The SDLP may have avoided an even worse election result, but, in parallel with the Ulster Unionists, they are a Party that is on a continuous decline.

  • gerardy

    So the DUP and Sinn Fein claim a victorious win saying the electorate have spoken and picked who should seat in the driving seat for Northern Ireland over the next four years, really?
    First of all really only half of the electorate of Northern Ireland came out to vote, and on the nationalist side republicans historically when asked to vote, really go the full length as even the dead vote, so the nationalist vote probably did most contain republicans therefore the SDLP suffered due to a vote meaning more to a republican than a moderate nationalist, the average SDLP voter.
    It could be said the same on the unionist side of things but not really, as many unionists did want to vote for the DUP due to the great turnaround of the party by the comeback kid Pete, Then we have the fact not many young unionist voters see themselves as unionist but will share university facilities with nationalists therefore the Alliance party fits the bill for them.
    And who ever didn’t turn out to vote on the unionist side of things let’s just hope they were Tom Elliot’s boys and hopefully don’t come out next year either so there is no scum hanging about count stations eh Tom! So who really did lose this election? For me it’s the electorate because now we have a government elected on half of the nation’s will, I wonder what my other half has to say about things.

  • Politico68

    Dewi

    The PR system often throws up these discrepancies because of the transferable vote. However, if you look at the amount of seats for each party against the party % of the vote it gives you an idea of what would be a fair distribution of seats based on each partys performance.

    With 30% 0f the vote the DUP, you would imagine should have 30% of the seats – 32 seats.
    Sinn Fein 27% – 29 seats. SDLP 14% – 15 seats. UUP 13% – 14 Seats. AP 8% – 8 Seats. TUV 2.5% – 3 Seats.

    Within the majority Unionist contistuencies the majority is massive and as such the DUP can easily suck transfers from all U parties giving them more seats. The UUP benifit in the same way to a lesser extent, which i reflected in the fact that they have a couple more seats than one would imagine. on the other hand the TUV is so transfer repellent they cannot make a quota.

    On the Nationalist side it is similar but not exactly the same. Nationalist constituencies by and large dont tend to have the same huge majorities and so there is usually a couple of U seats up for grabs. Sinn Fein are more popular and their candidates usually finish ahead of the SDLP so the SDLP cannot benifit from Sinn Fein transfers. The SDLP are not transfer repellent but because their candidtaes finish low in the pecking order they simply have nobody to transfer to them except perhaps alliance.

  • Politico68

    A small majority of the new voters coming on the register are Nationalist but because they are young and unlikely to vote they have yet to make a significant impact. I think the figures are thus. For every 4 new U voters there are 5 new N voters. On the other end of the spectrum, U voters are dissappearing off the register at a rate of slightly more than 2 to 1 due to age and mortality. This would probably explain in part why the U vote is falling at such a fast rate. According to the census results of 2001 this scenario will continue for the forseeable future.

  • Gopher

    Interesting theory but if you look at the figures and transfers of the 2007 election there is absolutely no surprise. The shotgun transfers from unionism predictably did not occur which accounted for 10% of the nationalist total in 2007. The Alliance candidate is said to be very popular so I imagine 500 SDLP voters switched to Alliance and 400 unionists did not transfer to the SDLP.

    It would not surprise me if Alliance run a second candidate in Strangford next time round and pick up the “dead transfers” of the SDLP and SF and get that 6th seat. That combination is about a tenth of a quota short on 2011

    Likewise I expect Ford and Lo will have running mates next time. No smoke and mirrors required.

  • RyanAdams

    Hilarious – Paddy Reilly “SF watching the ballot boxes for electoral fraud”

    The ability of the SDLP and UUP to pull in transfers shouldn’t be underestimated.

    In both South Belfast and Upper Bann DUP/SF topped the poll and both managed their vote extremely well, but neither have anything to show for it other than one seat.

    It is indeed very interesting that the overall vote share and seat count are often very dis jointed. Look forward to interesting elections when constituency boundaries are massively redrawn.

  • markbelfast

    @gerardy

    On the nationalist vote, you seem to be making excuses for the SDLP that it was because the average SDLP voter didn’t turn out and so their vote slipped. Well if that’s the case, it is then the SDLP’s failure to galvanise and inspire people to vote for them in the election that resulted in their poor election.

  • Reader

    Dewi: Even more starkly DUP, UUP combined percentage 43.2%, SF, SDLP combined 41.1%. Seats 54 to 43! Strange.
    Low turnout in unionist majority constituencies – fewer votes, but just as many MLAs. But the price for this sort of unionist complacency is paid in e.g. North Down (only 3 unionist MLAs) and East Antrim (a Shinner got in with a combined nationalist vote just over a quota, and a 48% turnout)

  • Reader

    Oops – 4 unionist MLAs in North Down, not 3

  • PaddyReilly

    The reason SF only won one seat in South Belfast is that they only won 12.5% of the (1st Pref) vote, so they were lucky to get one seat. The DUP with 24.3% of the 1st prefs were in a better position to win more than one, but they were unable to improve on this because the UUP had less than a quota so there were no Unionist transfers available.

    The SDLP must have boosted their 23.9% with transfers from Anna Lo’s surplus.

  • PaddyReilly

    It is then the SDLP’s failure to galvanise and inspire people to vote for them in the election that resulted in their poor election.

    On the contrary, the SDLP with 94,286 first preference votes did very well, better than the UUP on 87,531. As it won less seats, it was either incredibly unlucky or there was some extra-electoral force at work.

  • Paynoattentiontome

    The thinly veiled defence of Tom Elliot offered by SDLP MLA Alex Atwood shows exactly where the SDLP, that is they feel the same, are and indeed eaxctly why they are going backwards in elections.

  • RyanAdams

    Sorry Paddy, was talking about SF with relevance to Upper Bann. Should have made that clearer

  • markbelfast

    @Paddy Reilly

    I know what you mean and I suppose you have a point in that they got 7,000 more votes than the Ulster Unionists, yet got less seats and so may feel a bit misfortunate.

    However, you are missing the wider picture of which I was trying to make about how the SDLP are increasingly a party in demise and are continually failing to inspire people to vote SDLP.

    e.g. Assembly election results for the SDLP:

    1998 – 177,963;
    2003 – 117,547;
    2007 – 105,164;
    2011 – 94,286.

    That’s rougly a total of 83,000 people in the space of 13 years who do not vote SDLP anymore.

    As I have said, on the wider picture the SDLP are a party in decline of support who fail to reach out to Northern Irish people and successfully persuade them vote SDLP and these statistics prove this with no doubt.

    Their evergrowing middle-class image that they are creating as a Party from the view of ordinary, working-class people is a significant factor, aswell as their negative campaign to the Assembly elections.

  • PaddyReilly

    Yes, Sinn Fein’s failure to win a second seat in Upper Bann with 27.2% of the 1st pref vote was either incredibly clumsy, incredibly unlucky or something more sinister. As I haven’t seen the count details yet (where are they?) I can say no more.

  • pauluk

    Davenewman, the Telly has some breakdowns, but not for all areas, unfortunately. Some of their figures are a little wonky. Probably done in a hurry.
    east belfast example

  • pauluk

    PaddyReilly, why would you suggest ‘something more sinister’? One might just as easily suggest that there is ‘something sinister’ about the fact that SF got 27%.

    It’s merely the vagaries of the counting system. Just look at the Greens. Their vote halved, they only got about one third of a quota on the first round in ND, yet end up with a seat.

    The whole election boils down to pretty much a status quo, apart from the last flickering burst of the TUV’s falling star.

  • Gopher

    “Their evergrowing middle-class image that they are creating as a Party from the view of ordinary, working-class people is a significant factor, aswell as their negative campaign to the Assembly elections.”

    I dont think the SDLP is in decline because of working class perceptions. It is in decline because it does not talk to post agreement nationalists who dont fancy voting for a party of whom their perception is that are their polcies are geared to appeal to a SF voter rather than addressing their needs.
    If stability is maintained more of these guys are going to enter politics, they are going to vote and work and for a party that reflect their social and economic needs not for a party that is worried about the perception of working class people has of it.

    That is why the SDLP will continue to decline, they just dont get it.

  • PaddyReilly,

    I’ve been taking the afternoon and evening off after too much election stuff started making my head spin, but the answer on Upper Bann is that it was largely SF’s own fault for (again) failing to balance properly. The DUP’s two candidates were only 200 votes apart, and the UUP’s spread only 300, but O’Dowd led McGibbon by 1800 or so. Then a quarter of the votes from O’Dowd’s 600 surplus went astray, and that didn’t help either. The TUV (and UKIP) votes put Unionists collectively on 3.84 quotas to 2.71 for nationalists, and Unionists were therefore always more likely to retain their fourth seat.

    What surprised me was Dolores Kelly retaining the SDLP seat. SF started on 1.9 quotas and the SDLP on 0.8 so I was calling this as an SF gain from SDLP on Friday. What proved me wrong was not just the leakage from O’Dowd’s surplus, but also that Alliance transfers pulled the SDLP up significantly – of 2800 Alliance votes (and 1000 UKIP distributed at the same time) the SDLP got 780 and SF only 80. (The UUP got 1600 and the DUP 680 but we can assume that the 1000 from UKIP are mostly in those figures.)

  • markbelfast

    @Gopher

    I agree with you on that but I was simply making an additional point to what I was initially saying in the post you’re referring to that the SDLP is seen as being the more ‘moderate’ nationalist party and closer to the centre ground and so it garners more middle-class support, where Sinn Féin is more radicial, more left-wing, more socialist, and more republican and so they have an image as being a very working-class party.

  • politico 68

    “In terms of just numbers the gap between those who vote for the Unionist ‘block’ and those who vote for the Nationalist ‘block’ is narrowing very quickly”

    Mark’s graph shows the nationalist vote has remained pretty constant since the beginning of the 2000s, the unionist vote has moved up and down but this year certainly wasn’t the smallest gap there has been and there doesn’t seem to be a constant or regular decline.

    But my comment was linked more to the fact that (apparently) the link between demographics and voting preferences is loosening. Not to mention the fact that 45%, of whatever political/communal persuasion, didn’t feel roused enough by either our Assembly or more indirectly our constitutional status to even bother voting. Unlike Scotland, we’re still waiting for our game-changer.

  • cynic49

    Reader

    As regards North Down the 54% who didn’t bother voting should hang their heads in shame. The members of the Unionist family who did vote need to take a hard look at themselves and how they voted. I have been told that hundreds upon hundreds, especially in the estates, voted 1 2 3 DUP and stopped. A much lesser number voted 1 2 for the UUP and stopped. Do these people not get it or is it because that’s what the party posters tell them to do? Is it any wonder that this solid Unionist area can only return a 66% block of Unionist MLA’s? The big parties shrug their shoulders and only seem interested that they got what they wanted and seem to lack a big picture mentality. Maybe when they stop drinking the champagne they might want to address this issue in North Down. I can’t believe that the Green’s, who have done nothing for Northern Ireland never mind North Down have been cause to celebrate or that the Alliance Party were on standby to celebrate for them. Unionist North Down? Don’t make me laugh!!

  • jeep55

    Nicholas:
    Alliance had a good election, up from 5.2% to 7.7%, their best result since the Westminster election of 1997″ – and a very similar result to the LG election of 1993 when they had 7.6% of the vote. Unfortunately all that hard work only netted one additional MLA seat but if we had to lose to anyone I would rather lose to Stephen Agnew. Tomorrow will be a much better day in terms of seat gains. In Belfast I am predicting a 3rd seat gain in Victoria (from UUP), and a gain in Laganbank (from UUP or SDLP), while Marie Hendron will move from last electedto home on the first count in Pottinger. That will take Alliance to six seats in the City Hall and will move them from 5th party to 3rd or 3rd equal party as there will be net losses for UUP and SDLP. In Castlereagh I predict they will go from 4 seats to 6 seats and become the effective opposition in that chamber.

  • RedTurtle

    @Dewi

    What is apparent is that the proportionality of the electoral process is a little messed up this time – UUP with 2 more seats than SDLP with 1% less first preferences, DUP with a whopping 9 more seats than SF with 3% more of the vote. I don’t quite get that to be honest – is it transfer inefficiency or just a fluke of the boundaries?

    It’s mostly differential turnout in nationalist as compared to unionist constituencies.

    North Down 44.90%
    East Antrim 46.80%
    Strangford 47.50%
    Belfast North 49.10%
    South Antrim 49.30%
    Belfast South 52.00%
    Lagan Valley 52.40%
    Belfast East 52.80%
    East Londonderry 52.90%
    North Antrim 53.40%
    Upper Bann 54.00%
    Foyle 56.40%
    Belfast West 56.70%
    South Down 56.80%
    Newry & Armagh 59.70%
    West Tyrone 62.20%
    Mid Ulster 63.80%
    Fermanagh & South Tyrone 67.80%

    Now you could say it’s unfair that the seats are not proportional to the province-wide total vote, but if so then you’d effectively be arguing, for example, that North Down should only get 5 seats and West Belfast should get 7, which is arguably unfair but for different reasons.

    The same thing happens in general elections where Labour’s share of the vote gives them proportionally more seats than the tories, because the seats Labour wins tend to have lower turnouts than the seats tories win.

  • ForkHandles

    There was some mention above about low turnout. Personally I haven’t voted since i was 18, which was nearly 20 years ago. I watched a few of the YouTube party vids, but none of the parties seem to be engaging in real policies. They all try to go for a vague ‘we can make it better’ feeling. But end up saying nothing that is ‘real.

    I recall reading that the DUP would choose Education as their pick. But I don’t recall hearing that pushed as a reason to vote DUP. If I remember right, they are in favour of retaining selection and the grammar school system. I am also in favour of this as I am a working class person that managed to do well through my own ability and despite my family’s lack of money to pay for my education. Since the top schools are Catholic Grammars, surely this would have been a key reason to attract new votes in many constituencies? When are NI parties going to make their election ads about their real policies?

    As an expat abroad I may have missed the local TV coverage. But I doubt I missed a real policy showdown between the parties. Maybe next time….

  • RedTurtle

    @oneill

    Mark’s graph shows the nationalist vote has remained pretty constant since the beginning of the 2000s, the unionist vote has moved up and down but this year certainly wasn’t the smallest gap there has been and there doesn’t seem to be a constant or regular decline.

    The unionist vote tends more to counter-fluctuate with the Alliance vote, it’s also more affected by oddities like the Conservatives, UKIP, BNP etc. UKIP and the BNP between them got 0.8% of the first preferences last election and arguably virtually all of those will be essentially “unionist”. There are also often so many unionist independents that it’s quite painstaking to add up the real total unionist vote, so you always have to be very careful that those doing the count aren’t being lazy 🙂

    Try calculating the total unionist vote from
    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fa03.htm
    or
    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fa07.htm
    and you’ll see what I mean!

  • PaddyReilly

    Its mostly differential turnout in nationalist as compared to unionist constituencies.

    A frequently invoked, but invalid explanation. For the good reason that there is no such thing as a Nationalist or Unionist constituency.

    Fermanagh and South Tyrone, bottom on your list, returns 3 Unionists and 3 Nationalists, the same as North Belfast at number four. The reason for the high turn out in F&ST and Mid Ulster is that the Unionist minority there have time and time again attempted to win them back by flooding the polling booths with the dying, the lame and the halt, provoking the same reaction on the Nationalist side. So there is actually no differential between Nationalist and Unionist voting habits: it’s all down to the balance of power in the constituency.

  • RedTurtle,

    You’ve nailed one of the bigger causes of disproportionality. Because seats are allocated on electorate rather than turnout, your vote in North Down where more than half of your neighbours stay at home is much more influential than your vote in Fermanagh-South Tyrone where less than a third of the electorate abstains.

    There was an element of bad luck as well, particularly as regards the SDLP. If your vote is fairly level across the whole region, once you start to fall below 14.3% you may find that you roll in sub-quota in a frustrating number of places simultaneously.

    But I am still a bit baffled by the SDLP failure to make the gains in Strangford and South Down. In South Down I wonder if Henry Reilly of UKIP did manage to bring out voters who had not previously participated. In Strangford, however, the SF and SDLP vote shares stayed exactly where they were in 2007, when by my reckoning thanks to boundary changes they should both have increased by an aggregate of 2%. It looks to me as if Gopher is right at his or her 4.36 comment about SDLP (and I think also SF) voters switching to Alliance, and transfers not coming through from other sources.

    I disagree with Gopher on Alliance running two candidates in those seats – you really need to be at double the other guys’ vote share, and they aren’t. Having said that, I advised Alliance (publicly on Slugger, and elsewhere) not to run two candidates in East Antrim and North Down, and they came close to getting them in in both cases, so I may not be the best source on this!

  • RyanAdams

    Interestingly enough the combined Unionist vote this time exceeds the vote in last years election by approx. a thousand votes, while on the nationalist side, the vote has slipped back a little.

    Interestingly enough, the demographic cavalry horseman often spoke of aren’t going to the ballot boxes.

    No doubt tomorrow’s results in certain places will show if demographic growth is helping nationalists out or not.

    I will definatley be watching for the results in Castlereagh South and Castlereagh West. Given the assembly result of South Belfast (Nationalist share down, even with some of countries highest profiles here), I doubt SF will win a seat in either DEA, and the SDLP will probably be as they were.

  • RyanAdams

    * In Fermanagh & South Tyrone

  • “Unionist North Down? Don’t make me laugh!!”

    “Eclectic” North Down, I think you mean. My mother voted Easton, Agnew, McFarland in that order, Alliance in the Council. Independence of thought and conscience is quite a British virtue.

  • RedTurtle

    @Politico68

    I am not sure about the percentages and I know that Nicholas would have a far better aptitude for this then my good self, but I have been doing some number crunching. In terms of just numbers the gap between those who vote for the Unionist ‘block’ and those who vote for the Nationalist ‘block’ is narrowing very quickly.

    I have tried to include as many independants and small parties in the calculations such as Ind Unionists and RSF for example.

    2003: U – 354k / N – 288k. Diff 66k
    2007: U – 334k / N – 293k. Diff 41k
    2010W: U – 322 / N – 286K. Diff 36k
    2011: U – 309k / N – 277k. Diff 32k

    you can see that even within one year between 2010 and 2011 there was a small but significant narrowing again. I think this is interesting but it will take a better man to give a proper analysis of what it may mean for the future.

    Those figures aren’t very meaningful because they are more than anything just indicating a fall in total turnout. Much more appropriate to look at the gap in vote percentages.

    From (apart from 2011 which I tried to do myself)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_and_politics_of_Northern_Ireland#Voting_patterns
    2011 Assembly election – 6.5%ish (not sure I trust the figures that are out there though and it’s a difficult calculation with some arguable classifications, e.g. Eamonn McCann, UKIP, BNP)
    2010 Westminster election – 8.5%
    2009 European Election – 6.8%
    2007 Assembly election – 5.8%
    2005 Westminster election – 9.6%
    2005 local elections – 8.0%
    2004 European election – 6.4%
    2003 Assembly election – 11.6%
    2001 Westminster election – 10.2%

  • Valenciano

    One unusual result which Nicholas and others haven’t picked up on is Newry and Armagh where Sinn Fein dropped 1.2% and the SDLP gained 3.8%. The SF performance is worse than that, as Davy Hyland was on the ballot in 2007 and took much more votes from them and the SDLP.

    Sinn Fein also balanced poorly there, with the third candidate way behind. If the SDLP had balanced better they’d have made an unexpected gain. Predictably the SDLP screwed up though I’d like to see the full figures.

    The Belfast Telegraph site has a few full count results but not all. The BBC and UTV web coverage has been poor and UTV haven’t even figured out that the boundaries have changed since 2007!

  • Valenciano

    @Redturtle, although he’d dispute the label, Eamonn McCann’s vote should be added to the Nationalist bloc as that’s where the vast bulk of his transfers went in 2007.

    Few people would argue with counting the BNP and UKIP as Unionist.

  • orly

    Oneill,

    North Down is probably the most British and most Unionist constituency in the country. Even with the strong Alliance vote and that “eclectic” Green tinge (actual Green rather than the Nationalist type), about 70% voted for those who were definitely “Unionists”.

    It’s so unionist that the voters don’t feel the need to stick to voting for unionists and indulge themselves in a bit of comedy.

    You could make the argument that places like Strangford are more “unionist” overall based on the numbers but nowhere else is as devoid of “nationalists” as North Down.

  • john

    Much is being made of the mis match in % of votes for parties and % of seats. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the council elections as with so many seats up for grabs (582 I think) then surely the seats should be more of a reflection of the vote.
    From a quick glance the discrepancy seems to be coming from the last lot of boundary changes which seems to have hit SDLP especially hard in Antrim. Will this be corrected in the new 16 constituency boundaries?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Dunno about the 16 constituencies but I don’t Unionism in general will be pushing for the sometimes mooted 5 seaters next time considering they got the 6th seat in around 2/3 of the constituencies this time.

  • Gopher

    @ Nicholas

    Statistics can only take you so far. Alliance is now secure in South Belfast, South Antrim and Strangford it needs second candidates in each to build profiles for the future. Alliance need to build on the momentum and belief. In Strangford where did those SDLP and SF votes end up? Absolutely nowhere dead. A second Alliance candidate would have got those provided he stayed in the hunt long enough. In South Antrim, are the people just going to vote SDLP forever and lose, if they want their vote to count a second Alliance candidate is a possibility. In South Belfast, Alliance controls the destiny of that sixth seat yet it goes to the SDLP and they poll only 900 votes more. The question is why are Alliance not grooming the three running mates right now. The longer stability continues the better Alliances chances. The inability of the UUP and SDLP to moderate and move from yesterdays politics to post agreement politics has left Alliance with a clear field and an untapped 45% which cannot be exploited without running more candidates

  • Driftwood

    There will not be ‘6th’ seats in the next assembly election. The Tory reforms at the national parliament make this clear. Doing the job of the assembly for them. As Usual.
    5 seats in each of the Westminster constiuencies max, probably less, along with less Westminster constituencies, probably 15. Bye bye SDLP/UUP, Alliance will survive as the altar boys, as at present.
    Will it make a difference to life here? Not a jot.

  • Valenciano

    “less Westminster constituencies, probably 15”

    ———————-
    They’ve already said that there’ll be 16 and the NI boundary commission is in the process of drawing them as we speak. Agree though that it means trouble for UUP/SDLP.