The cost of getting elected to the NI Assembly

Two reports came out yesterday morning from the Electoral Commission pertaining to the May elections in Northern Ireland. The first report gives a breakdown of Assembly candidate expenses. (Overall party expenditure was reported at the beginning of September.) [Click on the graphs to enlarge them.] The six winning candidates spent more than twice as much in South Down, Fermanagh and South Tyrone and West Tyrone as they did in Belfast West or Belfast North. South Down and East Londonderry were … Read more

Assembly transfer rates: SDLP most transfer friendly in 2011…

This excellent wee paper from the Assembly, reminds me I still have to write a post election profile for the DUP and the Greens… In the meantime it seems the SDLP is the largest recipient of other peoples’ transfers, but it is SDLP voters who are most resistant to voting away from home… The SDLP received the highest number of transfer votes from other parties; Sinn Féin received the lowest number of transfer votes from other parties; The highest number … Read more

The UUP’s election: the past is another country

In the almost a month since the elections a number of attempts (Alex Kane’s is usually the best) have been made to analyse the UUP’s fortunes. The clear message from most (less so from Alex) has been that the UUP did badly and is in decline: quite possibly terminal decline. A number of reasons have been proffered for this state of affairs, most of them relating to the perceived rightward move of the UUP (again I point out that the … Read more

The election in numbers

sorting Belfast West assembly votes - May 2011

The Electoral Commission held their post-election seminar on Thursday morning in Belfast along with the Electoral Office (EONI) and Royal Mail. Representatives from local parties along with election staff and electoral observers were in attendance. 26 suspected absent ballot forgeries have been referred to the PSNI as a result of signature issues being “checked by a forensic expert at the NI Forensic Science Laboratory”. 78 postal ballots were found in a final sweep of NI Mail Centre on the evening … Read more

Post election, Sinn Fein’s position is (not) like…

…any other party’s on the island. Any activist worth his salt will remind you that Sinn Fein is a movement, not just a party. A few short years ago, when the party was committed to political development but alienated from policing and justice, that held a certain menace. But that is changing, and changing substantially. Into what is not yet clear, but as the Latin poet Lucretius once noted in De rerum natura (On the nature of things): Nam quodcumque suis mutatum … Read more

“What I can’t do is give a cast-iron guarantee…”

The new Northern Ireland Health Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots, has re-introduced doubt about the proposed radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin when, during the election campaign, the NI First and deputy First Ministers’ had promised certainty. From the BBC report Mr Poots said he hoped to make a decision in the next few weeks. “It’s top of my in-tray. What I can’t do is give a cast-iron guarantee without having seen all the documentation and papers around this issue,” said Mr … Read more

What if we ran reduced dHondt with a ninety seat Assembly?

All the news with the informal tweeted D’Hondt, along with Brian’s article on local democracy got me thinking what would happen if this election had taken place in the context of 90 MLAs and only 6 ministries being selected under D’Hondt. Hopefully this’ll provide enough intrigue to carry on ’til Monday when the ministers are announced! Before I go on, here is what I had to assume to write this: The 90 MLAs come from the same 18 constituencies, which … Read more

Alliance go back to college and work – what did their manifesto say about DEL?

stephen farry alliance

In the end, I never got round to reading the 150 page Alliance manifesto before the election. On Friday night, the five main parties informally ran d’Hondt to select their ministries – and announced the informal selections via the Executive’s twitter account, controversially some suggest – allowing them to spend the weekend making informed choices about suitable ministers from their elected MLAs. With nine ministries selected, Alliance had no option but take the remaining Department for Employment and Learning as … Read more

Post election, the Alliance Party’s position is like…

…this quote from Joseph Campbell the late American mythographer, who once figuratively described a cautious careerist who “comes to that condition in late middle age: and he’s gotten to the top of the ladder, only to find that it’s against the wrong wall.” For all its many successes in this election the Alliance party might claim that they are nowhere near the top of their ladder. And although they are a year older than the DUP, it may be too … Read more

McClarty to stay independent

Former UUP MLA, David McClarty, now elected to the NI Assembly as an independent MLA, has just confirmed on UTV Live that he will not be joining the UUP Assembly group. That decision means the UUP will only get one ministerial position and the final, tenth, position on the NI Executive to be distributed under d’Hondt will go to the Alliance Party. Pete Baker

Candidate selection and the lingering death of the UUP in Belfast…

I know, I know… We’ve probably done too much on the poor old UUP and not enough on other parties… But this particular train wreck is fascinating in the detail… For instance, I have just been listening to Martina Purdy on Talk Back, when she picked West Belfast as a place where the UUP could mount a comeback… You can see the reasoning. Bill Manwaring stood there for the second time in the last year and put nearly half as much … Read more

#AE11: Enter UKIP stage right…

When UKIP first announced it would contest our assembly elections I was interested but not too hopeful.  After an election which had very little excitement the plight of specific parties or candidates have been the major stories. UKIP gained 4,152 votes across 6 constituencies.  This may not seem many but it needs to be looked at in context.  They gained more votes than the Workers Party, BNP and PUP combined. Henry Reilly, UKIP’s South Down candidate, won 2,332 First Preference … Read more

Buying votes in East Belfast … at £6 a pop

Stephen Stewart tallying East Belfast Assembly ballots - closeup

Having interviewed him up at Stormont a few weeks ago, I bumped into 18 year old Stephen Stewart again at the East Belfast Assembly count last Friday. He was completing another stage of his off-curriculum political education by tallying some of the ballot boxes along with his campaign manager. Unlike the rest of the party tally teams who were jotting down first preferences on their clipboards, Stephen and Alex only had two areas on their forms: STEWART and ALL OTHERS. … Read more

Post election, the SDLP’s position is like…

West Ham struggling near the bottom of the table desperately trying to avoid the drop… What particularly brought them to mind was Robbie Keane’s spectacular miss against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend… Despite sharing some of the same institutional problems with the UUP, the SDLP remain the more competitive, at least at Assembly level. But in both sets of elections, their long term decline has continued. And there have already been glowering looks (though nothing said, concretely at least) at Margaret … Read more

Slugger’s Big Heid Coont Breakfast 2011

DUP strategist Lee Reynolds answering questions at Slugger Big Election breakfast - photo by Mr Ulster

A slightly smaller crowd that previously gathered at 8am this morning up on the top floor of the Europa Hotel. After a quick plug from sponsor Mark Prentice (MD of Firmus Energy – who can help you to Keep ‘er lit) a number of guests popped up to the podium to make their comments on the Assembly and AV referendum results and take questions from the bacon butty-guzzling guests. Asked to comment on the role of Twitter in politics, Conall … Read more

Post election, the Ulster Unionist position is like…

…the very last scene of The Italian Job. The party bus is on the cliff, the gold is down one end and the gang the other. One of them creeps too far towards the gold, and they risk falling off the cliff. Any of them make for the door and, the bus goes off the cliff. What’s the cliff? Well you get a hint when you look at UTV’s map of 1st preference majorities. A reflection of the damage wrought … Read more

“They held an election and the government won…”

Something of a one-two in the Irish News opinion pages today.  Firstly, from the editorial. For a government, it is difficult to claim a credible mandate when around half the voting population refuses to offer its backing to any of the candidates on offer.  This disconnect is not a new phenomenon, of course, but representatives who dismiss this as simply a symptom of normal politics need to take a reality check. What they should be asking is why voters are staying … Read more

#AE11: the internet election? Yeah, right.

Having been busy at work most of the day, the most I managed was being a peeping tom on Mark’s live feed on Slugger. Now, having had a couple of hours to carouse the web and check out the incoming numbers, it appears that, while lots of commentary is now available, few outlets are actually providing the basic count numbers. So much for the internet elections, then. Even Twitter, which comes into its own during election counts, requires an old-fashioned pen and … Read more

What are the lessons from the #ae11 and #lg11 campaigns?

Grafitti in East Belfast - If voting could change anything it would be illegal

The (first) day of the count is a slow news day as it takes a few hours for verification to confirm the turnout and set the quotas for the subsequent STV counts. And while parties will be busy tallying this morning to get early indications of what the eventual first preference results will be, there ratio of speculation to hard fact will remain high until lunchtime at the earliest. In the meantime, it might be useful to look at some … Read more

Observing Polling Day #ae11 #lg11 … and more imprints

As an election observer, today’s the day when you get to visit lots of polling stations. Having started my morning at an away day in Ballymena in the delightful surrounds of the ecos Centre I toured around a few North Antrim polling stations before heading back towards Belfast East, Belfast West and Lagan Valley. I picked up a lot of comments that the colour of the different ballot papers weren’t sufficiently distinct – despite input from RNIB – particularly when … Read more