What if we ran reduced dHondt with a ninety seat Assembly?

All the news with the informal tweeted D’Hondt, along with Brian’s article on local democracy got me thinking what would happen if this election had taken place in the context of 90 MLAs and only 6 ministries being selected under D’Hondt. Hopefully this’ll provide enough intrigue to carry on ’til Monday when the ministers are announced!

Before I go on, here is what I had to assume to write this:

  1. The 90 MLAs come from the same 18 constituencies, which would be made into 5 seaters.
  2. All parties would run the same number of candidates in each constituency which, with increased quotas (below), would be ridiculous in some places!
  3. Overall 1st preference numbers remain unchanged.
  4. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this is the quota. I recalculated the quota for Belfast East, and using the Electoral Office results sheets (which I recommend) I tried to see if that would change things. But unfortunately it didn’t quite work out as I expected, so failing a more detailed analysis, I just eliminated the last person to be elected in each constituency which is crude, but effective.

Well I think that’s all the major assumptions so let’s move on!

The new party totals would be:

DUP : 34

Sinn Fein : 24

UUP : 12

SDLP : 11

Alliance : 8

Others : 1

So running D’Hondt with these new totals (and 6 ministries) would give the order as follows:


Sinn Fein


Sinn Fein



With what would be a completely new political reality if these changes came in and produced results like that it’ll be interesting to see who will push for it in the next Assembly. Would it bring together a progressive, broadly left leaning Alliance-SDLP opposition while maintaining the status quo of mandatory coalition? Would it allow for the DUP to finally swallow up the UUP and push a united unionist front facilitated by the electoral death of the TUV?

PS I can post the breakdown on a seat by seat basis if you want to have a nosey?

PPS McClarty would be the only ‘Other’ to keep his seat.

, ,

  • Langdale


    My understanding is that NI constituencies will have been reduced to 16 by time of next election and that both the DUP and SF favour 5 MLAs. That would bring the tally down to 80, so what would that do to the figures?



  • Cahir O’Doherty

    Ah, I thought that the reduction of constituencies would only affect Westminster, but I suppose it would make sense to simultaneously reduce Assembly ones too.

    I’ll have a look at the data again today with that in mind and have a think, but it’d be very difficult to say what it would do without knowing how the new constituencies would be made up and even with that, without ward by ward figures, it’s deep in the land of conjecture.

    However, I imagine it would add to the decline of the SDLP and UUP as they would be more likely to lose the marginal candidates sneaking into final seats with the highly increased quota whereas the DUP/SF have enough workers and good enough vote management to do consistently well.

    Also, I am far from being a Mathematician! I guess what I could quickly enough do is take 72 as the figure for MLAs (18 four seaters) and see what that would do!?

  • South Down Stoop

    Hard to forecast at the minute, just with a comination of factors: the support for reform by some parties as well as the definite loss of 2-3 Westminster constituencies in the near/medium future. For example, if Westminster seats went down to 15, that’s MLAs down to 90 even at six a seat. Change to 5 MLAs per constituency would move this down to 75.

    Another thing to consider would be the reaction of parties to a seat change, particularly in candidate selection. For example, the SDLP would probably reduce candidates from 3 to 2 in South Down and from 4 to 3 in Foyle, while the UUP may be forced to play it similarly conservatively in places like Strangford or East Belfast. Overall though, would hurt the SDLP-UUP a lot, would probaby force sincere consideration of a formal opposition within the 2 parties.

  • alex gray

    One idea – could UUP not become a client party of DUP in way Free Democrats – Count Lambsdorff’s old party – the Free Democrats are of the Christian Democrats in Germany ? Second thought – if you go on reducing Stormont from 90 to 80 to 72 why not close it altogether ? How will you staff committees in a reduced Stormont ? At some point democrcay will stop working. Scrutiny will go. Even now, how will Alliance with 8 MLA’s staff committees with 2 Ministers ? Finally who will the DUP hate now that they have hammered the UUP again ? Jim Allister I suppose? You know at some point the DUP will realise that if you cut MLA’s and wipe the UUP out altogether all they will get is more unionist abstention. Most UUP voters will definitely never vote DUP now. So how will that stack up for the balance between unionism and nationalism ? Already at 43% v 41%. You see in killing off the UUP the DUP may well succeed in killing off the union. I know it’s all,Robbo knows how to do – hammer the UUP and they certainly have assisted him but at some point even he – the great strategist – will realise he has been too successful but, as always in these matters, it will be too late.

  • lamhdearg

    nerer Assume blah blah blah.

  • joeCanuck

    108 MLAs for an electorate of 1,800,000 is totally ridiculous.
    Comparing it with Ontario, Canada, for example, 18 would suffice. The number should be reduced to 54 maximum. I think that is close to the old Stormont; more than enough. Maybe 6 Ministers.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Joe, Nova Scotia has half the population and 52 legislators, New Brunswick 750k and 55 members, Newfoundland 500k and 48.
    And what about PIE from Wikipedia “Prince Edward Island has a high level of political representation, with four Members of Parliament, four Senators, 27 Members of the Legislative Assembly and two cities, seven towns and sixty incorporated rural communities yielding over five hundred municipal councilors and mayors. This gives a total of 566 elected officials for a population (as of 2006) of 135,851.”

    These are much better comparisons to NI

  • joeCanuck



    Didn’t know that. What can I say? It’s disgusting.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Some interesting combinations for non-manditory coalitions. DUP/SDLP for one.

  • Valenciano

    We discussed possible 16 seat arrangements at length a few months back.


    Based on figures helpfully supplied by Nicholas Whyte on that thread I estimated the likely 2007 result as follows.

    DUP 31 (-5)
    SF 27 (-1)
    UUP 16 (-2)
    APNI 6 (-1)
    SDLP 13 (-3)
    PUP, Deeny and Greens one each, no change

    I’d expect that based on 2011 figures, the UUP and SDLP would be disproportionately affected in any review as they have a lot of seats which are won sub-quota and the raising of the quota which would happen with 5 seats per constituency would probably cost them more than the big two.