SDLP go to the polls this weekend – a look at the voting process as Attwood becomes the bookies’ favourite #sdlp11

Margaret Ritchie SDLP leadership campaign promotional balloon - Let's Make HistorySDLP delegates go to the poll this weekend to select a new leader to succeed Margaret Ritchie. Party HQ will be busy selecting suitable triumphant music for the winner to enter the hall to on Saturday evening around 5pm.

This morning, Paddy Power lists the odds

  • 11/8 Alex Attwood
  • 7/4 Patsy McGlone
  • 3/1 Conal McDevitt (though Paddy Power spell his name incorrectly)
  • 6/1 Alasdair McDonnell

Votes will be physically cast at this weekend’s conference.

Each branch has one voting delegate for every ten delegates (technically, 1 vote for 1-10 members, two votes for 11-20, etc). Each branch chooses their delegate(s). That delegate is may be instructed to vote on the branch’s preferred choice, not the delegate’s but since there’s no whip, retains an element of personal choice!

All elected representatives (Councillors, MLAs, MPs) and all members of the party Executive have a vote – but doubly jobbers politicians with dual mandates still only get a single vote.

Since there are more than two candidates, it’s a PR election, with delegates voting 1, 2, … etc. Eliminated votes are transferred at full value.

Update – This morning’s Irish News has the details that the “354 people with a vote” are made up of “87 councillors, 15 assembly members and MPs,12 executuve members, eight memners representing the women’s, youth, London and Dublin groups and 232 branch delegates”.
It’s been a year of surprises for Alex Attwood. He didn’t expect to be sitting around the NI Executive table after the May elections, but was nominated ahead of deputy leader Patsy McGlone. He didn’t expect to be participating in a leadership election, and has come from last place to be the bookies’ favourite. Whether or not that translates into branch votes and personal votes from his colleagues remains to be seen.

Alex Attwood has a tendency to speak freely and stray from his notes (if he even has any). Let’s hope he writes a victory speech in advance for Saturday night to set our his vision for uniting the party and securing its relevance to Northern Ireland … just in case he does squeeze ahead when the transfers are totted up!

UpdateNicholas Whyte has posted a good summary of the four candidates on his blog, looking at their use of the internet and proposals for organisational change.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.

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