An early look at the Euro Runners and Riders

Alex Kane in the Newsletter has had an early look at the runners and riders in this year’s European election. Alex’s primary focus is on the unionist battle, with his assumption – widely shared- being that Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson will claim a seat and leave the SDLP’s Alex Attwood battling merely for an increased share of the Euro vote (the party has been stuck on the 16% mark for the previous two European contests.)

The fact that the local council elections are held the same day might deliver a higher turnout than would have been the case for an election which should return the usual compliment of two unionists and one nationalist.

The battle within unionism is of slightly more interest given the likelihood of an assortment of candidates ranging from Jamie Bryson to (possibly) Jim Allister and an as yet unidentified NI21 candidate, but these characters shall be fighting for scraps in the margins with the regional nominees of UKIP and the Conservative Party- though Allister’s track record means he’d likely be a fair distance ahead of this pack.

Anna Lo’s performance for Alliance will be worth watching for reasons Kane outlines:

This is going to be the first electoral test for Alliance since the fallout from the ‘flags vote’ in December 2012. It will let them know if they have lost any of that softer pro-Union vote which wandered to them between 2009 and 2011 and which helped them pick off Peter Robinson, as well as win an extra Assembly seat and 14 council seats.

On Mike Nesbitt’s first major electoral test, Kane has this to say:

This is a big election for the UUP and the first one under Mike Nesbitt’s leadership (the mid-Ulster by-election doesn’t really count). Opinion polls put the party at around 11-12 per cent and if that turns out to be the case then Jim Nicholson could be in trouble. My own instinct is that he will hold the seat. But if he holds it on a lower percentage then he’s going to have nothing to pass down to the council candidates; and that’s where the real damage could be done to the party.

It’s hard to look past Anderson, Dodds and Nicholson.

I don’t think Allister will gain the impressive vote tally he received in 2009 (13.7% on 66,000 votes) so I’d suggest that Dodds and Anderson will be a much closer contest at the top this time.

The only way this could get interesting would be if Attwood pushes the SDLP share towards 20% and Nicholson comes in with a paltry 11-13%, in which case Lo’s transfers could actually mean we’d a European election without an entirely predictable outcome for the first time ever.

Don’t bet on that though……

  • Comrade Stalin


    Being arrogant and opinionated has never been a barrier to political popularity in this country.

    Attwood exemplies the SDLP – middle class, Catholic, trained as a lawyer, and (looking at his stance on things like alcohol regulation) has a moral axe to grind. He was a competent minister, though, I’d give him that.

  • Gopher

    Comrade can you give me an example of his competence because as far as I can see his legacy was failed projects and the emasculation of his department

  • FuturePhysicist

    Northern Ireland is effectively outside the EU in many regards, look at this forum it’s totally about Local Politics. The DUP want the second seat because that is all that party has to live for, why should 1,500,000 people abandon all ambition just because we have half the half hearted DUP MEPs, Peter Robinson wants there. The DUP don’t even want to be in the EU, they seem to think without the EU, Northern Ireland would still maintain the benefits of agricultural, peace and research funding the political elite of Whitehall would rather churn up on pointless nuclear weapons they’d give to the French anyway, and the share delusion that the UK could forge a Common Market through unrelenting pursuit of its own wish list. The hints in the word “Common”.

  • Comrade Stalin


    The DUP have no intention of challenging for the second seat. It’s a ruse to try to scare Nesbitt.

  • The keep

    They never had now of course the Uup will demand that the Dup tell their voters to transfer to the Uup to make sure the third seat remains in unionist hands.

    Which means that the Uup instead of having to come out and persuade people to vote for them are now gifted an election victory this will hurt them badly in future elections

  • Comrade Stalin

    The UUP are in no position to make demands of the DUP, and in any case the DUP have never acceded to suggestions that any particular party should benefit from their transfers; consistently they have merely said that their voters should transfer to other unionist candidates.

  • FuturePhysicist

    With low turnouts and needing transfers to get elected, unionist parties are going to have to listen to what voters tell them, neither party are in any position to tell voters what to do, the voters are not children looking for orders.