Rewarding the centre: Positive-sum, cross-community politics

James Devlin is a postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway. The recent general election results were marked by the high positive swing to the Alliance party. Alliance were rewarded with one seat, came within 2000 votes of a second, and increased their share of the vote by approximately 10%, including in areas where they have previously struggled. In doing so, Alliance affirmed their performance in the recent European elections, confirming a general swing in Northern Ireland towards the centre, driven by …

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Entitlement to participation in the ‘official opposition’

Interesting sidebar to the issue of an ‘official opposition’. The proposed scheme is set out in Appendix F4 on page 55 of the “A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan” document (although it still requires some administrative mechanism to formalise it). The first section clearly states that: (i) “Those parties which would be entitled to ministerial positions in the Executive but choose not to take them up, to be recognised as an official opposition. Those parties which choose to …

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The Assembly shuns reform despite UK government pressure

The news from the Assembly and Executive Review Committee that the political parties in the Assembly have been unable to agree on reforming the political system will hardly shake the world. “No Consensus” is the mantra apart from minor concessions towards an opposition.  There is not much here to tempt the SDLP or the Ulster Unionists into quitting the Executive, even in the proposals from those parties themselves, especially the SDLP.  This will hardly impress the British government which was …

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“creating consistency between each of the devolved institutions across the United Kingdom”

While the bullshit distraction that is the DUP/Sinn Féin “Building a United Community” paper [pdf file] was being paraded across the airwaves last week – Think of it as a revamped Contested Space Programme [Don’t tell the International Fund for Ireland – Ed], pre-empting consultation on area-based planning, and Girdwood times 10.  [And another non-working working group? – Ed]  With 3 representatives from the DUP, 3 from Sinn Féin and 2 each from the other 3 Executive parties… ANYhoo…  The NI …

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Department of Employment and Learning goes, but Alliance keep Justice?

Stephen Farry, by all accounts one of the more competent ministers in the Executive, is likely to step down when legislation comes through the Assembly to axe his department. Ken Reid reports the deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein (they have all the power says Ken) will confirm Farry’s party leader David Ford in his current role as justice minister outside the d’Hondt mechanism. Interestingly, the axing of this department will necessitate a re-run of d’Hondt (which, outside Big …

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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 …

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#skodashuffle Executive Ministers announced

We’ll update the post as the names on the doors of the ministries are revealed. Sounds like many will be named outside the Assembly chamber rather than waiting to be announced as part of business. The Speaker may not be amused. Choice 1 DUP – Finance and Personnel – Sammy Wilson (for 2 years) then Simon Hamilton Choice 2 SF – Education – John O’Dowd Choice 3 DUP – Enterprise Trade and Industry – Arlene Foster Choice 4 UUP – …

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David Ford on d’Hondt: “I don’t think it’s a particularly proportional system.”

BBC NI political editor, Mark Devenport, calculates that the Alliance Party are in prime position to pick up the tenth, and final, ministerial position to be distributed under d’Hondt.  Now that “the government” have been re-elected… The NI Justice Ministry comes later – and may only be a temporary appointment.  From Mark Devenport Steven Agnew’s last gasp victory for the Greens leaves Alliance on 8 seats – exactly half the Ulster Unionist total of 16. Under the D’Hondt system the UUP gets …

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Futuring: d’Hondt and the new Executive

As the outcome of the Assembly election firms up throughout the day thoughts will be drawn to d’Hondt and the eventual make up of a future Executive. Forget about a paper and pen, use this handy d’Hondt calculator to play with numbers. Blank

Dump d’Hondt: The UUP’s suggestion for improved Executive

There are still some folk in the SDLP who see their role (as Mark Durkan undoubtedly did) as the guardians of the institutions set up by the Belfast Agreement. But as we’ve seen with the shift in the rules for the election of First and deputy First Minister’s roles, that’s not a position held anywhere else. The UUP’s Mark Neale looks at the impasse over education and reprises Tom Eliott’s idea that the winning parties ought to be forced to …

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Fantasy D’Hondt

Northern Ireland Executive logo

Time to play an early game of Fantasy NI Executive, or maybe more properly, Fantasy D’Hondt. The order in which parties select ministries is determined by the size of the parties. When the full D’Hondt process was last run on 8 May 2007, there were still only ten ministries. The DUP was the largest party with 36 elected MLAs, followed by SF (28), UUP (18) and then SDLP (16). The parties selected ministries in the following order. DUP – Finance …

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