Nicholas Whyte spoke at a lunchtime event being run under the umbrella of Imagine!2015 The Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics in the Ulster University’s Belfast campus: Who cares about Voting and Identity.
You can listen back to his half hour presentation and follow along with the slides below.
He broke down census results for national identity and looked at the most British / Irish / Northern Irish / Other wards and constituencies. He asks which parties are engaging with the growing ‘Other’ in some constituencies like Fermanagh & South Tyrone (5%+ ‘Other European’) and South Belfast (9%+ ‘Other’)?
He went on to look at how predictably Protestants vote Unionist and Catholics vote Nationalist, as well as highlight constituencies where Protestants must be voting Nationalist (eg, South Down) and Catholics must be voting Unionist (South Antrim and North Antrim).
He identified voters in South Belfast and North Down as ‘volatile’.
Nicholas offered no prediction on the marginal East Belfast seat at the May Westminster election other than to suggest that more unionist candidates favour Alliance’s chances. North Belfast is finely balanced and it’s obvious how an election pact could push a candidate over the line.
Perhaps the biggest shock was the drop in Northern Ireland voter turnout. At the 2001 Westminster elections, the top four turnouts in the UK were Northern Irish. By 2010, Fermanagh & South Tyrone was ahead of the rest in 179th position … and no other NI constituency was in the top 400 (out of 650).
Nicholas states that he was against compulsory voting, open to adding ‘none of the above’/’reopen nominations’ to ballot papers, and against e-voting.