It’s Groundhog Day! Looking ahead to a potential second 2017 Assembly Election

The clock is ticking. Following the seismic results of last Thursday’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections, the rules state that the local parties have three weeks to form a government before the people of Northern Ireland are asked to go to the polls for the fourth time in a year.

Previously, I had discussed the forecast model that I had created for the election, based on the results from 2016 and polling published by Lucid Talk. Overall, the accuracy of the model was not bad, albeit it didn’t quite foresee the surge in Nationalist turnout that brought Sinn Féin to within one seat of becoming the joint largest party, and the SDLP replacing the UUP as the third largest party. Italics denote a gain.

Although they failed to win a single seat in any seat more difficult to win than their seat in Foyle, the DUP’s “red wall” held firm. However, the wall is now looking far from solid; for example, they only held their third seat in Strangford by 225 votes ahead of the SDLP.

Sinn Féin won all of the seats that they were favoured to win except for the seat in Upper Bann lost to the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly. They easily won three in Mid Ulster and Newry and Armagh that might have been expected to be close contests, and received 6,650 more votes than the SDLP in their former heartland of South Down, who were forced into a battle with the Alliance Party for their second seat.

The UUP were the worst performers with regard to the model’s expectations, and the five seats that they lost where the model put them as favoured to win were all lost to nationalist parties (Sinn Féin won four in addition to the SDLP’s surprise win in Lagan Valley).

The problem for the UUP with regards to a potential second election is that none of these contests were particularly close; they trailed Sinn Féin by 760 votes in West Tyrone, 1079 in Newry and Armagh, 1189 in Mid Ulster, and didn’t make it to the last count in Lagan Valley and South Down. However, they appear secure in the ten seats that they currently hold, so there would appear to be little downside risk for them.

Ultimately, the DUP are the party most likely to decide that a second election is in their interests. Strangford aside, their remaining seats look fairly safe, although their seat in Foyle could be a slight risk. The following table shows how they fared in seats that were lost in this election, but could be a target in a potential rerun.

South Belfast immediately jumps out here; Emma Little Pengelly was eliminated on the eighth count a mere 25 votes behind running mate Christopher Stalford, and only 58 votes behind Michael Henderson of the UUP. Had the UUP have been eliminated at this point, it is probable that UUP transfers to the DUP would have seen both DUP candidates elected ahead of the Green Party’s Clare Bailey. Update: Ian Parsley has correctly pointed out in the comments that this isn’t the case, and the DUP were nowhere near getting a second seat in South Belfast.

Elsewhere, a rerun of the election could potentially see the DUP take a seat off Sinn Féin in Fermanagh & South Tyrone and win back a seat in Lagan Valley from the SDLP. However, they would be putting their potentially vulnerable seats in Foyle and Strangford at risk. In the absence of a significant fall in Nationalist turnout, it is difficult to see a tactical advantage for the DUP in asking Northern Ireland to return to the polls immediately.

Will the electoral groundhog emerge from his burrow with a plan for a functioning Executive? Or will he see his own shadow, condemning us all to an extended winter in Punxsutawney? We should know in three weeks. In the meantime, here’s a Sonny and Cher song you may enjoy.

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  • Ian James Parsley

    I really enjoy these pieces.

    One point of disagreement and one additional note, though, to get the debate started!

    In South Belfast, the DUP was never ever winning two seats. Had the UUP candidate been eliminated, a higher percentage of his transfers would have had to go to the DUP than actually came to him from the DUP – and even then they would have had to have been split between the two DUP candidates reasonably evenly. Neither of those would have happened.

    The Ulster Unionists do actually have two seats at risk – the second in East Antrim (to SF) and Fermanagh-South Tyrone (to the DUP). Mind, to win the latter the DUP would have to sacrifice Arlene’s position at the top of the poll and indeed try to balance to as to risk her seat altogether. There’s an interesting thought…!

  • David Crookes

    Another election?

    Aaaaaagggggghhhhhh!

    Please say you don’t mean it.

  • Pasty

    The issue now is will Arlene listen to what the people have said. No one is saying she can’t lead Unionism, but for the cause of good government she must (and should have) stood aside to allow for a transparent and independent enquiry to take place. Anywhere else in the World and the Minister Responsible for the loss to a state budget to such an extent would have resigned or been sacked. Arlene said that the North didn’t need an election and couldn’t afford one, so is she going to make the people go through another costly election that no-one wants or is she going to do the Right Thing by and for the people?

  • Lionel Hutz

    I agree regarding south Belfast. When the last counts were coming in, the only risk I saw to Bailey was if one of the DUP was eliminated before UUP. That happened and still Bailey pulled through. Had the UUP gone out before Pengelly, it’s almost certain that Bailey would have gotten more of those votes than she got from Pengelly.

    I don’t think east antrim will be lost to Sinn Féin to be honest. If there weren’t enough votes this time for a nationalist, there won’t be next time. And he was some way off in the end.

    FST is very tricky. The risk to the UUP is if the SDLP take a seat back. If one of the Sinn Féin candidates gets eliminated before the SDLP (the gap was 60 odd votes) then it is likely that the SDLP would be elected meaning less transfers for the UUP.

    FST is either 3SF 1 UUP 1 DUP or 2 SF 1 SDLP 2 DUP I think

  • Lionel Hutz

    I disagree, I think the DUP have more leverage than that. Sinn Féin have an opportunity to get into government without a unionist majority. I don’t buy that this is something that will be repeated for evermore. A rerun with nationalist voters less angry could see a return to a DUP veto. So SF should want government. …for equal marriage for the Irish language act. Etc etc. The price might be that they don’t require the humiliation of Arlene.

  • Annie Breensson

    SF have vetoed forming a government if Arlene leads DUP. DUP will force another election in an attempt to improve their position.

  • salmonofdata

    Oops, you’re entirely correct on South Belfast. But on East Antrim I think SF are too far behind, and F&ST problematic for the DUP to take a seat from the UUP for the reasons you say.

  • burnboilerburn

    Bring it on. The sleeping dog is wide awake now and ready to biye again

  • Annie Breensson

    That would seem to be the sensible option, Lionel — but who knows what calculus will prevail? For example:

    – Loss of face
    – Can concessions be wrung from Westminster by abstaining

    etc.

  • Gavin86

    Who ever advised Arlene to stand firm and not stand aside, really deserves the sack. Surely the DUP knew of the potential consequences of entering an election, and those consequences have now come to fruition.

    Without the benefit of hindsight, this disaster was foreseeable. Who in there right mind would take such a political gamble as has been done so by the DUP. From a position of strong Unionism to now a position of near equal pegging, it just beggars belief that a party leader has to be saved and maintained over the fortunes of in this case Unionism.

    I always thought that no one person is meant to be bigger than the party, regardless of which party that is. At this moment it seems that in the case of the DUP, Arlene is and was.

  • Mark Petticrew

    If there is to be another Assembly election this year, it can be rest assured that the circling of the unionist wagons would be colossal. The current 4-figure disparity in votes (1,168) between the DUP and Sinn Féin would no doubt take pride of place in the party’s pre-election vocabulary alongside that of “Gerry Adams’ Sinn Féin” and the “radical republican agenda” 2.0.

    The DUP has wasted no time in calling out those who preached unionist disunity in the run-up to Thursday’s election, and, given the psychological significance of unionism’s loss of majority representation in the Assembly, the emphasis put on the political unity of unionism is likely to only further escalate in the coming years.

  • burnboilerburn

    Yes but lets bare in mind the law of diminishing returns? How often can you cry ; Crocodile watch out !! Untill people just accept its a nonsense.

  • Puppet’s Puppet

    As a non-NIer, I keep hearing these two issues, the language act and same-sex marriage, repeated over and over, easily the two most mentioned specific measures (besides the parliamentary machinations themselves) in discussions of this election. (People even seem to say that the “equality” in SF’s slogan is a reference to them.) And I have to say, these are two of the most utterly ridiculous things I have ever heard of for everyone to be going on about, back and forth. An observer would think that NI is either some sort of Utopian paradise–that these are the things people are worrying about–or that its politicians have very little dedication to paying attention to the important issues facing Northern Ireland.

    I emphasize, of course: (1) It is none of my business what NI does; (2) I have very little regard for the politicians in my own country (USA) either; and (3) I come at this from a position of complete naïveté, having not lived life in NI. But it is sometimes useful to know how things look to a naïve outsider.

  • Mark Petticrew

    In January, Paul Givan said that Thursday’s election was an exercise in “testing unionism”. If we can draw anything from Friday’s results, the DUP voter certainly past any such test, for it was the RHI-laced DUP which was endorsed last week on an increased turnout by 3 in every 5 unionist voters (62%); a similar tally to that of 2011 (64%) and 2016 (61%).

    I simply don’t think the influence of the unionist political identity should be underestimated it. Northern unionism as a political force may be shrinking, but the strength of unionism itself amongst its adherents doesn’t look like dissipating anytime soon.

    I suspect many unionists, almost certainly DUP voters and then whoever else throughout the broader unionist family, will station themselves in eternal watch for the advancing crocodile, with this of course being fertile territory for that oul gem; the unionist card.

  • Paddy Reilly

    As I see it, the election was something like a duel used to be. “You called me a liar? You cad! It will be pistols at dawn.” After one man is winged and another bullet goes well off target, everyone is satisfied and is friends again. A fight to the death is not deemed necessary.

    So if Arlene Foster is not ice-picked by her own people in the next 7 days, there will be an Assembly ready to savage her. The impetus for this action does not come from Sinn Féin: it originates with the UUP. There will be a motion censuring AF: I am too ignorant of Stormont Constitutional Law to know what the possible outcomes are. It’s a matter of determining whether the toy-town set-up of this august body allows the sort of action one would expect in Westminster or the Oireachtas.

    Possible options as I see them are:-

    (1) that the Assembly votes to make another DUP member 1st Minister;
    (2) that the Assembly votes to suspend Arlene;
    (3) that the Assembly votes to exclude her from any investigation of Ashes for Cashes;
    (4) that the Assembly merely passes a motion of censure.

    But the majority is against her: SF, SDLP, Alliance and UUP: that must count for something. Perhaps even one could end up with a repetition of the Parnell affair, and have the DUP split into Fosterites and anti-Fosterites.

    Personally, I feel (3) is the best option. Perhaps the best strategy would be to elect a Speaker who hates Arlene’s guts and proceed from there.

    One point I would like to stress is: if you provoke an unnecessary election you are unlikely to be rewarded by the electorate. The electorate seems to have come out against the UUP. Therefore, another election in 3 months time is hardly going to be in SF’s interests.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    The DUP would be attacked either way. Being dictated to by the Provos and all political opponents just isn’t going to happen. There hasn’t even been an inquiry, and standing aside would be an admission of guilt when all parties had some form over oversight and would just be used to try and kick the DUP even more.

  • chrisjones2

    What is the UUP for? Aside from gay rights (on which it is split) it seems to agree with the Dup on most issues.

    Time to go. I predict it will dissolve with most joining the Dup and a few running as independents

  • Jag

    Well done Peter, the forecasting was pretty sound, just three of the 90 were elected with low (sub 30%) probability.

    The difficulty with these forecasts is their grounding in the static results of the previous election. By May, we’ll have names of RHI recipients, we should have the triggering of Brexit, there will be infighting amongst the DUP and UUP.

    Is the result last week just a point on a line of momentum?

  • Ballyhackerer

    I think Arlene should stop off at SD Bells on her way to Stormont today, park in the wee car park by the Knock lights, go to the back entrance to Bells, pause at the door, breathe in deeply…and smell the feckin’ coffee!

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    In another election nationalists will come out in even greater numbers. I have at least five close friends who didn’t vote last week and are kicking themselves. Posters on this site have been speaking about last Friday for a while and nobody really paid attention. I cannot stress this enough from a nationalist point of view, this is the last chance for stormont otherwise we’ll push for a referendum sooner rather than later and we will win

  • Pete

    Yep. Terrible decision. The logical thing would have been for Arlene to briefly step aside as Sinn Fein requested.

  • Gopher

    If you honestly think voters after seeing the entire nationalist protest vote went to an incompetent government party are going to vote the same way again and the DUP and UUP will have the same candidate profile your seriously deluding yourself. As for a referendum alway remember and Gerry well knows this for all his bluster, there will be an assembly election on the same day. People are looking in disbelief as their courage in voting or transfering non secterian was not reciprocated. As one Green voter said to me its pointless now (voting green)

  • Gopher

    The thing that is lost on people here is the DUP actually remained the biggest party and the party that damaged it most was the UUP

  • grumpy oul man

    She could have stood aside while a inquiry took place, it is not a admission of guilt merely the right thing to do.
    Peter done and it is the norm outside North Korea.
    A bit of humility from AF would have made a big difference.

  • Brendan Heading

    I suspect Foster has been ignoring quite a lot of the advice she has received, believing that obduracy and stubbornness were the key to securing her position.

  • Gopher

    The DUP if they want to try and change this election result have one punt left. Refuse to change Arlene and when SF refuse to nominate forcing another election. Arlene simply resigns and makes way for a new Leader most likely Hamilton, who they hid throughout the campaign to lead them through it.

  • Gopher

    Now if SF had of thought of that option first they would not have laid down an ultimatum.

  • Brendan Heading

    FWIW I don’t think anyone wants an election. The parties are all skint, except SF, and voters by now are burned out hearing about it.

    It’s much more likely that the UK government will rush through a few quick emergency amendments to the Northern Ireland Act. I don’t think they will suspend the assembly and take over direct rule, although that threat will be left dangling. I do think they’ll allow the period for talks on reforming the government to be extended for a time.

  • Gopher

    I actually think there is no alternative now as SF did not expect to do aswell and hedged their bets with the Arlene Ultimatum. If the DUP give in (which they wont) they are finished.

  • chrisjones2

    What for?

    McCormicks evidence to PAC was clear. Arlene signed off the scheme on advice from officials that the profit element was essential to get buy in, there would be monthly and quarterly monitoring and an annual review and controls to stop profiteering.

    Its now clear that there wasnt – officials (some of whom were leaving under the severance scheme) did not set up any monitoring or control process. Nada. As Minister it seems she was actively misled and there was gross neglect or misconduct in the Civil Service – McCormick said as much at PAC

    We then get to the closure issue. Yes she was involved in this and asked for it to be delayed for a short period. What she and others did not know and the Minster did not tell her (because he didnt know) was that an offiical or officials in the Department had warned off key industry figues to fill their boots. That led to a surge and an additional £220m liability over the last 3 months. Frankly that warrants a criminal investigation to determine if any offences were committed

    And during all of this Michelle ONeill was busy running 100 seminars to persuade farmers to get into the scheme. Her defence is she didnt know what was happening but the huge profits on offer were the Key Selling Point. Didnt it ring any alarm bells that the Department was handing out £16 for every tenner spent?

    So lets have the enquiry and expose all of this

    My position on this is simple. I am not a DUP voter. I actively detest Arlene for her narrow sectarian politics, her arrogance and her political short sightedness. At the same time I dont see a shred of real evidence that she was directly culpable in this and if she stands down so should ONeill.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    You mean they’ll stand candidates who aren’t white anglo-saxon heterosexual protestants who aren’t sympathetic to LGBT and “ethnics” (as Sammy Wilson puts it) rights and not mainly male and members of the loyal orders? We’ll hold our collective breath on that one I think.

    As for the referendum, it’s coming. We’ll also have another dose of RHI before any further assembly election, no doubt finding out that the main beneficiaries of the scheme have ties with the DUP. That’ll go down a treat I’m sure.

    And then we have the other elephant in the room that myself and other posters on here are wondering why there aren’t any threads on it. The DUP’s big Brexit donation and the real possibility that should it be judged that the donation will need to paid back then theres a real possibility that the DUP will go bankrupt. The sheer silence on what Open Democracy unveiled last week speaks volumes. Where is their party treasurer, Gregory Campbell? The main man who has an opinion on almost everything hasn’t been seen nor heard of since last week.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/electoral-commission-contradict-dup-on-brexit-donor-transparency

    If you don’t think that Friday represented a major serious shift in the political discourse here then you’re in for a real shock

  • chrisjones2

    DUP will use a POC

  • Ciarán Doherty

    I doubt the people of NI will even get a chance at a referendum, what you say may be true if NI was left to it’s own devices over the next 10 years but it won’t be, and a UI may end up being a desperate last minute hatchet job to prevent complete economic collapse in the north after a Brexit process that totally neglects everyone outside of England.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    There’ll be a referendum in the next 15 years definitely. We’re about to be served up a big dish of British love for the north over the next two years. The lack of interest and coverage across the water of the biggest election resut since the GFA should tll everyone what they need to know about how important we are to the rest of the UK. Brexit will be more destructive to the union here than anything that’s ever gone before. You are right about one thing, we need reunification to prevent complete economic collapse

  • Fear Éireannach

    This is all interesting in a nerdish kind of way. But what purpose does it serve in reality? Another election would not make much difference overall, the people who tuned out to protest the DUP lack of respect will turn out again and maybe a few more besides. Even if the DUP get a couple more seats, they might be at the cost of the UU as likely as not. But however many seats the DUP get, they still need cross community agreement to get a government formed, so they are no further on.

    The present situation came about because of DUP hubris, ignoring the joint nature of the setup. Surely they have now noticed this?

  • Ciarán Doherty

    I hope that talk of economics and plans to make a UI profitable for all involved starts to come to the fore now because 1) that’s the only possible way of swaying even the softest of unionist voters, not to mention soft nationalists and 2) it’s the only way I see the people of NI having any future that does not involve borderline poverty.

    It’s not even like Scotland, where independence would probably be costly and whilst perhaps worth it in the long run would probably result in some short term contraction – the economic models for UI all predict it to be nothing but a huge growth opportunity for both the north and the south and that hasn’t be trumpeted enough.

  • Mike the First

    On point 1 – the Assembly doesn’t get a vote on FM and dFM.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Doesn’t have them any more. POCs now can only be used in combination with UUP, which in this case would not play ball.

  • Paddy Reilly

    One down, three to go. Now that I have woken up properly, I’m not sure that 3 is workable either. The point was the impropriety of having a 1st Minister under investigation.

  • Msiegnaro

    The UUP doesn’t support gay rights and this is the problem, otherwise I agree with what you’ve said.

  • jimbob622

    I doubt you would find many observers thinking NI is a utopian paradise. Equality is a big issue here (given that there has been mis rule in this statelet for the majority of it’s existence). Why would anyone who holds these issues dear accept them being brushed under the carpet? There has been much focus on Health and the mishandling of public funds especially in the run up to the election. The latter being ultimately the reason for election. I think you are over stating it when you say marriage equality and the irish language act are ‘easily the two most mentioned specific measures’.

  • Enda

    Naive outsiders can come across very distant to the political situation in the North, you really can’t get a flavour (in your case flavor) for what life is like there until you’ve immersed yourself to a degree in the day to day life of the people that live there.

    I run across ignorance and sometimes sheer crassness from our dearest neighbor, Britain, on a regular basis. Just yesterday, at a birthday party, someone asked me (in a hollow-minded type of voice) in relation to Fridays election, ‘why do they elect terrorists over there?’, with little thought as to my Irish nationality, and knowing full well that I am quite staunchly Irish, despite being from the part of Ireland under UK rule. I simply replied, ‘Why does/did your government deploy terrorist colonial bully tactics around the globe for generations, and expect no retaliation from the aggrieved? And do you think that’s okay?’.

    Gasps of indignation followed.

    The point I’m making is that NI politics are very peculiar to anyone outside of NI, but the perceived unimportance of some issues can be sometimes unfounded.

    Marriage equality isn’t just an issue in NI, it was an issue for most countries in the developed world. It just so happens that one of the only regions in the developed world with it yet to become legal, is NI, so I suppose it can also been seen as an attempt to bring NI in line with modernity, in the face of what can only be described as a stubborn, backward, ultra right christian conservative ideology.

    As for the language act.

    Ulster is the ancient Gaelic heartland of Ireland. Almost everything and every place is steeped in history. Up until the 1800s, the majority of the native population spoke Irish. The vernacular of the English spoken today is very heavily influenced by the Irish language, (and to some degree low-land Scots-English). Around 85%+ of our place names are anglicized from the original Irish spelling.

    There is also a growing daily usage of the language, and support from a language act would help promote this growth.

    Sounds like a perfectly reasonable piece of legislation to have in a part of Ireland, does it not?

    If it wasn’t for the colonial mindset of the type of people mentioned above, then this legislation wouldn’t even be an issue. The hatred that these Irish wannabe Brits, have towards Irishness, is the reason why our politics seems so tribal to an outsider.

    Having said that….

    Shouldn’t the Head of State, in the USA, have more important things to be doing than casting paranoid aspersions on his predecessor?

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Agree 100%. People should be on the case already and begin putting together the true cost benefit analysis of an all-Ireland republic and then letting us have a debate on it in proper fashion. As well as this, we need more high profile UI supporters to publicly back the idea or at least appear warm to it. There’s so much potential for change for the better that reunification will bring. I hope these things happen in the next few years so that some of the myths associated with reunification can be dispelled

  • babyface finlayson

    Chris
    If the DUP make the same calculation would that lead them to try another election, feeling they may improve their position slightly?

  • Puppet’s Puppet

    To be clear and fair, most media coverage for instance does not pay much attention to specific measures at all. They talk about RHI and party politics at Stormont. They talk about Brexit–not a policy decision being made at Stormont–because everyone loves talking about Brexit. And they talk, of course, of Unionism and Nationalism in general–their presents and fates. But, again, I don’t see any specific policy measures getting more discussion than the two I mentioned.

  • chrisjones2

    Right thing? Why?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes it does ….there will be defectors and TUV will support on issues like Marriage Equality etc

    Gerry, as usual, is over selling his position

  • chrisjones2

    The sleeping dog grew to 30% wow

  • Msiegnaro

    Definitely two DUP seats in FST, question is do you run someone other than Morrow?

  • Jollyraj
  • Paddy Reilly

    The TUV contingent of 1 will not convert 28 into 30. In the current situation no UUP member will want to support Arlene. The POC will henceforth protect Unionism from unjustified discrimination, but not the DUP and Arlene Foster. Marriage Equality is not the matter under consideration.

    But to perfectly honest, the tradition that a party leader resigns after losing an election is what should apply here.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe move Arlene to a safer seat East Belfast, North Antrim or Lagan Valley!

  • eireanne3

    “voters by now are burned out ”

    Another variation on the theme of “Referendum/Voting Fatigue”, the latest fashionable illness that is designed to dissuade people from voting.

    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/referendumvoting-fatigue/

  • Msiegnaro

    She has big support in FST, question is who’s her running mate?

  • Enda

    Couldn’t be that great when she didn’t make first preference.

  • Sharpie

    They are what you would term bell weathers. If these two issues were accepted and voted through a lot of other stuff would have to be in place already – including a large degree of liberalism and a lack of fear of what it means to hear people speaking Irish. The fact that we are so tardy and indeed far away from having these things means that there are many things that need putting right before we get there on the to-do list. I think they became the issues around which solid group of pro and anti could be found. Can you imagine us being so clear cut on issues of dealing with the legacy of the troubles – which is the un-lanced boil of our society?

    Regarding the other issues of health, infrastructure, jobs – yes these are indeed the greatest issues facing the day to day life of our place however we cannot do anything brave or imaginative with them while the two major polar opposites cannot agree on the existence of the state and the role each should have in governing it.

    This is called stalemate and given the demographics we are facing a stalemate for at least half a generation, during which time the priority is not be killing each other.

    That said the primary accelerator for a changed future in the near term is Brexit and I am interested that it was clearly on the minds of voters but not in the political media during the elections.

    Brexit will accelerate a unification of the Island.

  • Msiegnaro

    Stop trolling it’s boring.

  • Enda

    Not trolling – that’s my real face and my real name.

    Now – what part of my sentence do you find to be ‘alternative fact’?

  • burnboilerburn
  • Lionel Hutz

    Not if the SDLP is eliminated. Enough votes will go to Barton to push her above either or both DUP candidates.

  • grumpy oul man

    Because, it is not a admission of guilt and gardening leave is the normal way these things are handled.
    As i said peter done it twice and both times returned.
    It wasn’t only the shinners that wanted her to stand down while a inquiry took place, SDLP,UUP,Alliance.TUV all thought she should stand down.
    Now look at the results of her failure.
    A election with what can only be described as a disastrous result for the DUP and unionism in general.
    Now if she does stand down she (and the DUP) will appear weak and if she doesn’t stand down then the unionist team in the talks will be led by someone without the full support of the party she represents.
    Neither Robinson or Paisley would have let this thing get to this point Arlene has proved that she is neither a Robinson or Paisley.

  • chrisjones2

    You are wrong. Thye have promises in place on what they see as the key issues Watch and see

  • chrisjones2

    Yes it will be brilliant and within the next 15 years after at least 2 major collapses in the Euro people will look and thank the Brits for saving them from that

  • Msiegnaro

    Barton had borrowed DUP votes from some wanting to teach Arlene a lesson.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Of course they will. Because this current British government has shown such an avid interest in and acknowledgment of all constituent parts of the UK that it’s just bound to happen just cos. Your mind bullets and sheer will power will just make it happen

  • Enda

    The biggest part by one seat. They lost 10 seats, that’s a big loss.

  • Mark Petticrew

    Indeed, it’s testament to the loyalty of DUP’s electoral base that support for the party in 2007 (30.1%), 2011 (30%) and 2016 (29.2%) was, even in the context of RHI, effectively relayed last Thursday at the polls (28.1%).

  • Mike the First

    Are the nationalist parties’ candidates not also white, Irish Catholic and predominantly male?

  • Paddy Reilly

    As I understand it Sinn Fein’s position is that it cannot allow itself to be portrayed by the SDLP and UUP as conniving at DUP corruption. The DUP’s position is that it doesn’t take orders from SF. So, we had an election. Beyond this, SF’s duty is to ensure the restoration of devolved government. If Arlene thinks she is entitled to carry on as 1st Minister and her party back her, SF has done everything it can: it is up to the UUP and Alliance to formulate sanctions against her, SF can agree to implement them, where possible.

    It might even be advantageous to SF for her to carry on in the position, given the chaos she will cause. As Napoleon (allegedly) said, never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of executing an absurd manoeuvre.

  • Lucian Fletcher

    The transfer of the Gildernew surplus suggested there were enough ‘anyone but the DUP’ votes to mean Morrow was gone whoever went out at that stage.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If it got its act together and found out it could easily get those 5 seats it lost off its DUP rivals. St Andrew’s however has put unionist competition in a box, but that box was beginning to break open. Despite the losses there was a DUP to UUP swing. Newry and Armagh would be a particularly difficult one for them though.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t think Lord Morrow lost many votes.

  • Msiegnaro

    He actually increased his vote.

  • Lucian Fletcher

    No. The problem is that the DUP are transfer toxic and he stayed roughly where he started throughout the counts. Some of the transfers to DUP from small parties, centre ground across NI were so small as to have been almost accidental.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Ironic that we are listening to Provo supporters talking about humility after all that glorification of bombing, murder and bank robbery. For the Provos to then show a a display of sheer arrogance to dictate the leadership of another party says all we need to know about “humility”.

  • Hugh Davison

    Rathlin Island?

  • Paddy Reilly

    On key issues, certainly. The continuance of Arlene Foster as FM is not a key issue that appeals to the UUP.

  • Hugh Davison

    The Shinners have more women elected than any other party.

  • Paddy Reilly

    If it’s any help, I put the (allegedly) in because his uttering of these words is apparently apocryphal: it comes from Military Textbooks of the 19th Century. Napoleon ended up dead, the same as Wellington, and anyone else of that era.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    I’m not a politician so I can criticise the electorate all I want (actually, so should politicians — Unionists aren’t wanting Provo-supporter votes anyway), and this laughable new narrative that you are trying to create that you aren’t allowed to criticise the Provos in case you upset the tantrum-prone-taigs just isn’t going to wash. You vote for the fvkin Provos — it doesn’t matter how many times you shout “respact”, you aren’t going to get it by virtue of being a Provo-voter and endorser of their campaign.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    muh 800 years uppressun!

  • Mike the First

    But their benches are still predominantly male.

  • grumpy oul man

    Dear me, still paranoid i see,

    you whole post falls down in the first sentence,
    “Ironic that we are listening to Provo supporters talking about humility”

    I’m not a Provo supporter (they disbanded you know) nor am i a SF voter.
    with that in mind i think we can ignore the rest of your rant.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Well certainly a Provo appeaser in one form or another.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well no I’m not, the problem here is that you think anybody who disagrees with your arguments and challenges your “facts” is either a Provo or a lundy.
    Neither of which exist anymore.
    You seem to be stuck somewhere between the 1690s and the 1970s unfortunately there are more then a few unionists like you, fortunately too few to make a difference.

  • jimbob622

    I see, fair point. I am sure that the party’s would have had other policies that they aired but it would be fair to say those two policies got more media coverage than others. Particularly the Irish language act in the run up to this election. However, the 2 policies you mention have only very recently gained this much attention. If you look at the vast majority of previous elections through the years these measures will not have received much attention at all. So it is not really something peculiar just to Northern Ireland, I would say it has been something peculiar to recent elections that have taken place in NI. Plus I don’t think policies are the main focus of media coverage in any election anywhere (I hope I don’t appear to be indulging in whataboutery) but from this distance the recent US election looked like a pretty nasty mudslinging match.

  • MadJackMacMadd

    “If the republic rejoined the UK then we could have a united Ireland that would be acceptable to the Ulster majority.”
    The ‘Ulster majority’? That’s very interesting Mark. You must be a Sasanach blow in from across the water as you clearly don’t realise that the people of Donegal, Monaghan & Cavan in the Irish Republic, taken with those in the six Counties of NI who wish for the exact opposite might just poo poo your little schoolboy plan.
    Now, run along and read a few history books.

  • MadJackMacMadd

    Thanks, oh master historian, but I am quite au fait with the Elizabethan period in Ireland. Particularly the Plantation and the scorched earth policy of Chichester which preceded it (reducing the Native population by approximately 50%), thus enabling the plantation of foreigners to Ireland.
    The people of ‘Ulster’ were in no way different from anyone else in Ireland; this is a myth propagated by phoney individuals (particularly those who champion the farce that is ‘Ulster Scots’) in an effete attempt to legitimise their position in Ireland. Ulster (or the Northern part of Ireland if you are so touchy about ‘Ulster’ being used incorrectly) was ruled almost exclusively by a handful of Gaelic Irish families for over a millennium. Ever heard of the name Ó Néill? Ó Domhnall? Yes, they are really ‘un Irish’ names, aren’t they? The most dominant of these families, the Uí Néill or Ó Néill also had a sept in Munster, which is quite far from ‘Ulster’.
    You are as fake and as phoney as Ulster Scots, Mark. Utterly clueless and ignorant; all too easily duped by historical terrorists like Nelson McCausland and his ilk who create a narrative out of nothing to try and justify their snarling and sneering hostility to the true Natives of this island, the Irish, na muintir na hÉireann, an Gael, Éireannach.
    In addition if you are trying to assert that there is a distinction between the Féni and the Ulaidh, then there is little if any. Ultimately they were both Gaelic tribes whose ancestors migrated from the Iberian peninsula millennia beforehand. They spoke the exact same language and practised the exact same customs. My ancestors are true ‘Ulaidh’. Yours are not.