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Turnout in Northern Ireland yesterday

Provisional unofficial turnout numbers figures from the Northern Ireland constituencies (with the 2007 Assembly turnout in brackets) - from Stratagem:

Mid Ulster 52.83% (73.1%)
West Belfast 46.6% (67.4%)
South Down 44.97% (65.0%)
North Antrim 43.7% (61.3%)*
South Belfast 42.1% (62.4%)
North Belfast 40.98% (60.9%)
Lagan Valley 38.86% (60.0%)
East Belfast 38.82% (60.0%)
South Antrim 38.03% (58.6%)
East Antrim 34.53% (53.5%)
North Down 34.48% (53.8%)
Strangford 34.24% (54.5%)

* Mark Devenport at the BBC has this figure as Newry and Armagh rather than North Antrim, but if so it is very low!)

Looks to me like (very broadly speaking) the Nationalist vote is down 22%, the Unionist vote more like 20%. So I expect the "gap" to be if anything a bit wider than the Assembly elections in 2007, ie combined Unionist total at around 50% and combined Nats some way below that. So while de Brún will retain her seat for SF, looks like Alban Maginness has failed to sneak in for the SDLP.

Rumours rather incredibly have the Unionist vote split three ways, with James Nicholson of the UUP/Conservatives ahead of Diane Dodds of the DUP and Jim Allister (ex-DUP now TUV). The fact that these rumours come from Allister's camp, thus admitting that he will probably lose his seat, make them more credible!

Mildly wishful thinking on my part: the turnout has dropped least in areas where the Alliance Party is strongest...


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 5th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
Turnout in NI
The big debate all weekend will be about turnout and what it means. With an exceptionally unreliable tally and only the weakest of indications on party support it might be better to focus on the infamous known, knowns. That is, how many people turned out to vote and where?

The first we do know. The BBC has reproduced a list by constituency of percentage turnout and on the face of it you could surmise that more nationalists turned out to vote then unionists. Nicholas White has also looked at the drop constituency by constituency and is discovering that the vote is down more in predominantly nationalist constituencies then in unionist ones.

He surmises that this means unionism is safe in its two seats ie that the vote has actually come out and will reach a combined 50% (or two quotas). Its an interesting point but Nicholas is lacking one crucial piece of evidence to prove it and that is a box by box break down in these constituencies which shows the minority unionist vote holding up in many nationalist areas and the nationalist turnout down. Truth is we do not have such information and where we do it challenges, at least in part his assertion.

Take South Belfast for example. The vote is down 20.3%. Looking at the turnout by box the numbers are way down in predominately unionist boxes and much less so in strong SDLP areas. This would suggest that although there has been a rop off in a constituency which returns 4 non unionist MLAS, it appears to be concentrated within the unionist electorate.

Nicholas may well be right in which case Alban has no hope or he may be wrong and we may be seeing the unionist vote drop across the board. This of course would open up the possibility of two non unionist seats assuming the Alliance and Greens transfer to the SDLP.

Truth is given the inability of all the major parties to run a proper tally and the total lack of cooperation from the Chief Electoral Officer we wont know till Monday.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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