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

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

Vote early, bring your spectacles … but don’t stand in the middle of the road or you’ll get run over

Chief electoral officer Graham Shields and head of the Electoral Commission in NI Séamus Magee posing with enormous ballot papers

While the Chief Electoral Officer Graham Shields and NI head of the Electoral Commission Séamus Magee are clearly holding dummy oversized ballot paper samples, the real thing won’t be much shorter in some polling stations. With an inch-high rows per candidate and space for the constituency details at the top, the East Belfast Assembly paper – with 17 candidates – could be close to two feet long! That’ll be fun to manipulate and fill in on the polling booth shelves. … Read more

Catching up with John Lowry (Workers Party) #lg11 #belw11

Workers Party SECT ARIA NISM election poster

In the last of this pre-election series of interviews with representatives from smaller parties contesting Assembly and/or council seats, I spoke to John Lowry, General Secretary of the Workers Party. (Update – adding link to their Election 2011 site.) John Lowry is standing for the Assembly in West Belfast and Lower Falls for Belfast City Council. The party is contesting all four Belfast Assembly constituencies. My earliest election memory as a child was pouring over the broadsheet 1983 general election … Read more

(updated) Not quite Hobson’s choice … running as an under-the-radar independent for council? #bele11 #lg11

Roy Hobson - independent council candidate in Belfast's Victoria ward

If there was ever a time to run as an independent – particularly for council – surely this was the year to get out around the streets and convince people to give new voices a chance – new voices that weren’t wedded to historic party policies, tribal politics and uniformed organisations of one for or another. Disappointingly, although Roy Hobson is running as an independent candidate for Belfast City Council in Victoria Ward, he hasn’t put any literature through the … Read more

Catching up with Steven Agnew (Green Party) #ae11 #lg11 #ndo11

The Green Party has six Assembly and twenty two council candidates standing for election on May 5. I spoke to Steven Agnew a few weeks ago in the party’s constituency office (and headquarters) in Bangor to ask about Green Party policies and priorities for the Assembly and local government, local sourcing, and their stance against reducing the number of local councils and their hopes for election results. Steven Agnew once echoed Kermit the Frog when he said “it’s not easy … Read more

The campaign always gets dirty near the end …

Sinn Fein posters mounted on top of other party posters in East Antrim

… but does it have to? This example of Sinn Fein postering in East Antrim isn’t exactly the most professional piece of campaigning … surely the early bird captures the worm lamppost while latecomers have to find their own free space? Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology … Read more

Catching up with Jim Gorman and Paul Little, IRSP council candidates in Belfast #lg11 #belw #beln

IRSP logo

On Thursday afternoon I spoke to IRSP’s two candidates standing for Belfast City Council: Jim Gorman (Lower Falls) and Paul Little (Oldpark). The party has another three candidates standing in Derry and Strabane. The first part of the interview looked at their candidacy in next week’s local elections; the second part looked at the IRSP more generally, its link with the INLA, God, apologies, policing and their view on current dissident activity. I asked about where the IRSP as a … Read more

#LG11 Open Thread: The Council contest…

If you want a more detailed piece on some of the issues at play, have look at John’s post from Monday. But this is an opportunity to flag council contests we should be keeping an especial eye on for Monday and Tuesday following the Assembly and AV counts. As an additional thought, if you are going to be at any of the counts (ie, Council, Assembly or AV referendum) and are willing to share thoughts, insights and information, drop me … Read more

Progressive Unionist Party launch manifesto with titanic pledges

Front cover of PUP Manifesto 2011

The Progressive Unionist Party launched its manifesto this morning. The party is now led by Brian Ervine who is standing for the Assembly in East Belfast while another eight candidates are running for seats on councils in Antrim, Belfast, Castlereagh, Derry, Larne and Newtownabbey. (I posted an interview with Brian Ervine back in March.) Speaking at the launch, Brian Ervine had an upbeat message. The PUP has emerged stronger and more resilient as a consequence of the crisis of 2010. … Read more

Catching up with Paddy Meehan (Socialist Party)

The Socialist Party are standing on a Fight the Cuts agenda. With local government and Assembly candidates in Belfast and Enniskillen they’re in competition with a whole clatter of small left wing parties. Paddy Meehan is their South Belfast candidate for the Assembly, and is also standing in Laganbank for a seat on Belfast City Council. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and asked what the Socialist Party was offering voters. We want to give the opportunity … Read more

SDLP launch manifesto … flags, symbols, and upping the ante on unification

It was the SDLP’s turn on Wednesday to launch their manifesto. … make no mistake, the SDLP, an Irish Nationalist Party, desperately wants a better Northern Ireland. We want to see a North which is attractive to business: a North that takes care of its sick and gives dignity and respect to its older citizens. A North which is safe and a great place to work and to raise a family. It was back to their campaign’s central message of … Read more

Alliance Party launch huge manifesto

David Ford 2011 campaign launch speech wordle - wordle.net

The Alliance Party manifesto should come with a health warning. Dropping it on your toe could cause serious injury. On Monday, the DUP’s director of elections Simon Hamilton described his party’s spiral bound book of promises as “probably one of the most detailed and most comprehensive manifestos that any party will do in this election or indeed any party in any election in Northern Ireland’s history will have put forward”. A short-lived claim, as the very next day the Alliance … Read more

Green Party manifesto launch – Economy for People and Planet

Natty pale green ties were out in force as the Green Party launched their manifesto this morning. Steven Agnew opened by saying: Resources are stretched and we have to prioritise spending on areas that meet a number of policy objectives. There is no sense in squandering money on projects that may be good economically but environmentally damaging. Equally we should not be pushing environmental policies that are not good for people. The Green Party benchmarks all its policies on whether … Read more

DUP and Sinn Féin manifesto launches

Sinn Fein Gerry Adams shadow at 2011 manifesto launch

Two contrasting manifesto launches this morning. With light flooding in through the Waterfront windows, the DUP launched their ring-bound (landscape) manifesto. The DUP filmed the launch and have uploaded it to Youtube. Peter Robinson declared: We delivered on well over 90% of the commitments in our 2007 Assembly manifesto. Interviewed at the end of March, Peter Robinson explained that while “the average citizen will not read the manifesto but it is a guide for the party itself. It’s the party … Read more

Catching up with éirígí’s John McCusker – starting “a community fight back”

eirigi badge

éirígí won’t be everyone’s cup of tea on Slugger – but then name one political party that is. And in the spirit of exploring the smaller parties standing in the Assembly and local government elections, éirígí replied to the email that a number of other parties received but ignored. I spoke to John McCusker at length a week or so ago. He’s éirígí’s West Belfast chairman and standing as the party’s candidate in Lower Falls for Belfast City Council in … Read more

TUV launch campaign and manifesto seeking to be a catalyst for change in the Assembly

TUV launch

On Monday morning, the TUV held their campaign launch for May’s Assembly and local government elections. They’re running 12 candidates across 11 (of the 18) constituencies, and 41 council candidates across 19 (out of the 26) councils. In the press conference, Jim Allister apologised to voters in constituencies in which they were not able to offer a TUV candidate. He explained that as a party with no public funding (ie, no Assembly, Westminster or European elected representatives), they had to … Read more

SDLP campaign launch: uniting people and building prosperity … and a tweet-up

Having postponed from earlier in the week, Margaret Ritchie this morning corralled the SDLP’s Assembly candidates together with many of the younger council candidates in Belfast’s Hilton Hotel to launch their election campaigns. Each party expends a lot of effort and expense organising these launch events … all for twenty or so reporters (and the occasional blogger) to turn up and provide a few minutes or inches of coverage. That aside, the SDLP’s leader called it a “marvellous opportunity”. The … Read more