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!