The UUP Leader, Mike Nesbitt was being interviewed today on The Sunday Politics , where he told Mark Carruthers;
In terms of preferences, I’m saying vote Ulster Unionist and then vote for any candidate that you trust will deliver for your community, for your constituency and for this country.
He then went on to say;
I will be transferring from my Ulster Unionist votes to the SDLP.
He did make it clear that he was only speaking for himself and not for others within the party. However, this is a risky strategy that could have the potential for embarrassment if other candidates in his party argue that they will not be following the same course.
The DUP Deputy Leader was critical of Nesbitt, repeating his own party’s call for their voters to transfer to other Unionist candidates;
Unfortunately it seems that the Ulster Unionist Party does not even have a settled position on whether it wants to see unionism strengthened. Each Ulster Unionist Party candidate in this election therefore must now speak out and make clear whether their Leader’s desire to boost nationalism represents their views. Other representatives and members of that Party too should speak out and let the public know where they stand on this issue.
If they choose to remain silent then voters will have no option than to assume they are happy to support candidates who want Joint Authority with the Republic of Ireland imposed upon Northern Ireland.
For the DUP’s part we want to see unionism strengthened and advanced. To maximise unionist representation we would encourage voters to support DUP candidates in their constituency in order of preference advised in your area and then to transfer to other pro-union candidates.”
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs