None of the MLAs elected in S.Belfast in 2011 will re-contest this year.

South Belfast has had a turbulent time when it comes to their MLAs. Since 2011, four of the elected MLAs have stepped down and the other two (Anna lo and Michael McGimpsey) have confirmed that they will not contest this election.

I think this is the first time in our devolved history where none of the MLAs elected at the previous election are re-contesting.

This makes the Unionist race all the more interesting as the DUP aim to take two seats. I would imagine Emma Pengelly will run with Christopher Stalford.

The UUP could run Graham Craig or Rodney McCune for the seat, but their vote has continued to fall in this constituency.

Yet, it isn’t all up for the DUP, Ruth Patterson and Bob Stoker will take some votes away, but if Alliance looks competitive for that final seat then, I would imagine they would be comfortable transferring to Stalford.


  • Kevin Breslin

    Well that is true, although Alex Maskey will be fighting the election on another piece of turf. I think it would be foolish to rule out the SDLP out of the second seat, they were able to take three seats in Foyle with a much lower margin over their nearest opponent than McDonnell had over Bell. I’d imagine it would be a challenge for it, but two seats have never been safe for the SDLP at anytime, and to be honest if the SDLP are competitive for that last seat parties like the Greens and Alliance would have to ask would they prefer the DUP to get two seats for five years by doing nothing, or lend their transfers to the SDLP who generally back a bit more of their policies.

  • jeep55

    I don’t think Alliance will be worrying about where transfers go. They will be balancing two candidates to stay in to the bitter end – with the hope that both get elected. There are now 2 quotas of votes in the middle ground in South Belfast and the other 5 quotas are evenly divided. So I call South Belfast as follows: 4 sure seats: 1 SDLP 1 DUP 1 Alliance 1 SF. 1 seat a contest between UUP, second DUP and Ruth Patterson. Final seat a contest between 2nd SDLP 2nd Alliance and Greens.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Can’t really partition the turnout like that, 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP, 1 SF and 1 APNI was the next likely outcome from the one that happened last time.

  • jeep55

    Kevin There are not enough unionist votes in South Belfast to collectively give them 3 seats. I stand by my prediction.

  • Granni Trixie

    Could you expand on exactly what you mean by APNI and Greens lending transfers to SDLP?
    Btw parties have little or no control over transfers and anyway surely Greens, APNi and SDLP will be fighting it out for the last seat? Or are you suggesting that it’s for the greater good that Greens and Alliance encourage people to give preference to SDLP?
    Or form a pact to oust DUP? If so you have touching faith in the SDLP which many do not share. Ditto re pacts.

    Or am I missing something?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry, I should’ve said their supporters, and I am quick to point out that the SDLP has no say over who votes for them and that applies to other parties too. It comes down to voter jurisprudence on these matters whether to transfer or not.

    The words “people who support”, did slip my mind when referring to Greens and Alliance, they would have to ask whether they want to cast a deciding transfer in that contest or not. They might go SDLP, they might go DUP, they might go “curse on both of you I want neither of you in equally.”

    I’m under no delusion to think either of those parties will encourage any preference shift beyond their selected candidates, nor will it be when it comes to other parties.

    When it comes to STV rival parties in the same area may not vote transfer to one another and voter transfers are a matter of use it or lose it. Often it’s simply a case of you got in on my transfers, next time I’ll intend to get in on yours.

    Effectively getting elected on transfers might mean having to appeal to a sympathy vote by competing to implement another party’s agenda in part.

    I don’t think transfers are any easier won than first preference votes, they might be even harder to win.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Agree with your last point Kevin. I also believe that transfers are harder to win than first preference votes. You go into the realms of Hyperspace trying to make a calculation or a prediction on them ! This is why South Belfast is going to be the most fascinating constituency to watch in the Assembly Elections !

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Kevin – in Foyle, the SDLP benefits from a hidden bonus of transfers from Unionists and centre voters who transfer to them against SF. In South Belfast those votes will stay with their first preferences. Keeping the third seat in Foyle is much easier than keeping the second in South Belfast.

  • Lionel Hutz

    There has to be a serious struggle for the SDLPS to retain two seats here. People might have seen both McDonnell and McDevitt for various reasons as marmite kind of figures but they were both very high profile within the party. Hanna and McKinney, though more visible than most SDLP MLAS, just don’t have the same pull as their predecessors. And in a constituency where they’ve always struggled to get that second MLA, it’s very unsecured.

    If there is reason to believe that they can bring these two over the line, it might be that Alliance and SF are facing the same issues. And the unionist vote might be even more fractured than usual

  • Kevin Breslin

    The SDLP gets transfers from other sources too, in previous elections Eammon McCann’s transfers have helped the SDLP win seats against Sinn Féin in Foyle. I’m surprised you’re trying to pack Foyle and South Belfast into tribal diatribes, I’m fairly sure people do vote for policy in both areas.

  • Gaygael

    That’s my thinking on this seat too. Unionists may get close to 40% of the total but I don’t feel it will be enough to be competitive for a third seat. With such a full slate of parties and independents, it will leak significantly over time and by the business end of the count, I expect it to be Ruth, UUP, and 2nd DUP in the running for the second seat.

    The SDLP second runner had 9.1% the last time out. I don’t expect the SDLP to hold their 23.9% from 2011. So unless they manage perfect split (with those two factions. Ha!) their second candidate will be proportionally lower. If alliance hold that whopping Anna Lo 19.8% from 2011 and manage to perfectly balance it, they will still have both candidates below 10%. That’s 2 big asks just to achieve that. That SDLP second seat will be challenged by the green and second alliance. All in the mix. The greens had the higgest vote growth at Westminster 2015, and you would have expected that to leak in considerable number to the SDLP in a tight tactical battle.

    Across the entire constituency, there will be a host of candidates with 6-10% of the vote. How the transfers play about and who is left at the business end will be very interesting.