Unionism Continuing to Slide: the 2022 Assembly Election and Longer Electoral Trends…

A serene gradient from red to smoky blue-gray seems to mask a chaotic scene underneath, expressing a wide range of emotion. Looking like a NASA closeup of Jupiter, this image reveals sediment in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.

After the 1997 Westminster election, unionists held 13/18 Westminster MPs, 61/110 1996 Forum seats, and were about 10% ahead of nationalist bloc votes. Now they have 8/18 Westminster seats, 37/90 Assembly seats and were about 0.5% ahead of the nationalist bloc vote in the 2022 Assembly election. Unionism has become a minority in all election types and looks close to losing its vote-plurality status. There are always variations of turnout and tactical voting depending on the type and significance of …

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If we put women on the ballot the electorate will vote for them…

Aoife Clements is the Founder of 50:50 NI The results of the 2022 Assembly election represent many steps forward for Northern Ireland. For nationalists, a Sinn Feín majority represents a step towards a united Ireland. For progressives, this majority and accompanying surge in popularity of Alliance is a step towards a less divided, more socially liberal Northern Ireland. For women, the record-breaking number of women elected to the assembly represents a step towards better gender balance within our political institutions. …

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Are the DUP the new abstentionists of Northern Irish politics?

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s announcement this week that the DUP will not go back into government in Northern Ireland until the NI Protocol is removed will not come as a shock, but it will come as a hammer blow to many ordinary people who rely on the support from Stormont. Throughout the Assembly elections Sir Jeffrey, and his colleagues in the DUP, made it crystal-clear that unless the British Government took decisive action on the protocol there would be dire consequences …

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A Step Change in Sinn Féin Strategy: Lessons Learned from the SNP Playbook?

By Dr Adam Fusco, Lecturer in Politics, University of York The results of 2022 Assembly election demonstrated remarkable successes for Alliance and Sinn Féin. One of the more remarkable features of the campaign, however, was how un-Sinn Féin-like the argumentative strategy of Sinn Féin was as it contested seats at Stormont. Traditional republican and nationalist themes, such as the Irish language and even unity, were not at the forefront of the campaign, but rather the party choose to emphasise the …

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Why A Single Unionist Party May Not Be A Panacea…

The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2022 has fundamentally changed Northern Ireland politics: Sinn Fein has emerged as the largest party, allowing it the right to nominate a republican First Minister for the first time; the Alliance Party has more than doubled its representation in seats to become the third-largest party representing the Other bloc; the SDLP has lost a third of its seats, dropping to fifth place; and the Green Party lost its only two seats. As for unionism: the …

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Scrapping Green and Orange for Pink: A welcome increase in female MLAs…

It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that last week’s election was monumental for many reasons. In fact, it may even look like progress. And to some extent it was; with a Nationalist First Minister, from a party with over half of its elected candidates being female. But, as it usually seems to, misogyny reared its ugly head. But this time, it seemed uglier than usual. Misogyny has always made its mark on politics. Across the Irish Sea, the …

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The election results are more about DUP failure than Sinn Fein success…

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. With the dust starting to settle on the [*checks notes*] “seismic” Assembly election, and with Connolly House no doubt in a jubilant mood, it’s worth taking a breath and analyzing just how it came to be that Sinn Fein finds itself with the most seats at the (formerly) unionist bastion of Parliament Buildings. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route …

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From a Bird’s or a Worm’s-eye View, Election ‘22 Changes the Picture Completely…

Equestrians on Tyrella Beach: riding under a rainbow (Sep., 2020).

The votes are counted, most of them five or more times by now. Let’s not bury the lead. Sinn Féin has just done something that looked unimaginable ten years ago: it has, within two and a half years, won a plurality of votes in an Irish general election and followed this up with a plurality of votes and seats in a Northern Irish Assembly election. The world’s media is behaving a lot like someone tipped them off to this possibility. …

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What now for the SDLP?

It should have been different. The party had been doing so many of the right things. It had put the years of destructive dissension over leadership under Ritchie and McDonnell firmly behind it. It had recruited and groomed a new generation of talented public representatives. It had professionalised its organisation. It had been rewarded with a modest improvement in its 2019 Euro election vote – which held out the promise that the party could put an end to the previous …

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My take on the 2022 Assembly Election Results…

Wow, it really did take a long time to count the votes, but now all seats have been filled. Sinn Fein kept their 27 seats and claim the title of First Minister. We all know the First Minister’s roles are equal but the DUP never miss an opportunity to sow the seeds of their own destruction. They could have agreed years to change the name to joint First Minister. Worse than that they kept using the threat of a SF …

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Lough Neagh Constituency Profile – STV for Dunnocks

One of the less talked-about constituencies in this election has been that of Lough Neagh. You might think that an electorate principally composed of birds would have found a natural home on Twitter, and actually they have, but they’ve had the good sense and decorum to conduct their campaigns on a restricted Twitter Community. No need to have Jim Wells, let alone anyone else, sticking their oar in. Like many Special Parliamentary Areas, the members representing the Lough had all …

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West Tyrone Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. Unionist vote share has slipped in West Tyrone from a consistent 33% or 34% in all elections up to and including 2017. Since then, it has not gone above 32% and hit 29% at the last Westminster election. Nationalist performance has been a little more uneven over the period, with no discernible trend. While Others bumped along the bottom of the chart, …

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Uncertainty increased: the latest Irish News poll…

black and white printed textile

There is a golden rule in reporting opinion polls: the more dramatic the poll result, the more cautiously it should be interpreted. The front-page headline of today’s Irish News, “Alliance and DUP neck and neck”, leaves little doubt that the latest Liverpool University poll is dramatic. SF 26.6% DUP and Alliance 18.2% each UUP 12.1% SDLP 10.5% TUV 5.7% Green 2.7% PBP 2.1% Others 3.9% The margin for error is 3.1% It is more productive to compare the changes between …

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Upper Bann Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

This fairy tree always catches my eye on the A1 heading southbound between Loughbrickland and Sheepsbridge.

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. In Upper Bann, both unionist and nationalist shares have bobbed gently up and down by small amounts for most of the decade. Unionists have been on a bit of a downward slope since 2017, but two elections in the same year do not make a long-term trend. Nationalists, too, dropped at the last Westminster election, but only to a level they had …

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Strangford Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The wee town of Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula at Strangford Lough, taken from Castle Ward (July, 2019).

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. Once you strip out the effects of tactical voting at the Westminster elections, the underlying trend in unionist share in Strangford was slightly upwards in the first half of the decade, but it has taken a decided downturn since. Meanwhile, nationalists have, on the whole, held steady. The marked increase in others only got going in 2017. The party shares show just …

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South Down Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

gray blocks

Note that I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. The tactical voting by some unionists and others for the SDLP in South Down, which boosted the nationalist share at Westminster elections, appears to have disappeared by 2019. South Down is another one of those places where candidates from outside of the constituency’s main parties sometimes win significant numbers of votes. In the 2019 Local Government elections, these would have …

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Hopes, dreams and nightmares: What the new Lucid Talk poll means for each party…

Believe in Yourself

The last Lucid Talk poll before the election appears in today’s Belfast Telegraph. It was conducted between Friday 22nd and Sunday 24th April. This means that some of the contributors will have been declaring their choice almost two weeks before the election itself. That’s only about halfway through the formal campaign. It’s important to remember that much can change before an election in that time frame. Historically many people only finally decide how they will vote in the last few …

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South Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

antrim castle gardens, hedge, pond

Yet again we see the pattern, familiar in so many constituencies, of the dramatic but temporary effects of Westminster tactical voting. Unusually, as can be seen in the main party chart below, both the DUP and the UUP benefit from this, and it is possibly one of the factors which led the UUP to run a second candidate for the Assembly. Alliance may also have derived some benefit from tactical voting, although it is obvious it lost the battle with …

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A particularly dull election campaign?

blah, conversation, talk

One of the benefits of the pandemic was it stopped people calling to your door. Charity collectors, people trying to sign you up for food box deliveries, and worst of all – politicians. I have yet to have any canvassers to my door, a situation I am most grateful for. To be honest I go out of my way to avoid local politics. I don’t watch the news or The View, l don’t listen to the Nolan Show, I don’t …

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North Down Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking out over a calm Irish Sea from Helen's Bay (Jun., 2013).

The obvious tactical voting for Independent Unionist Lady Hermon in North Down Westminster elections cannot hide the strong decline in Unionist vote share over the last decade. In the 2011 elections, unionist votes were worth 4.1 and 4.2 quotas. Eight years later that had dropped to 3.4 and 3.3. If they can hold on to that next month it should guarantee them 3 seats, but the leakage of transfers from UUP and Conservatives could leave them closer to the tipping …

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