Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Northern Ireland council elections 2011, starting analysis

Yeah, I know they happened three months ago; but I have now updated the summary page with full first preference votes, and also projected the local council votes onto the boundaries of each constituency.

I had not realised that both the UUP and SDLP did significantly better in the council elections than in the Assembly election held on the same day. One would normally expect it to be the other way round - there is often a bigger choice of candidates for the council elections, and in a second-order election voters may be more inclined to vote adventurously. But the UUP did two whole percentage points better, 15.2% rather than 13.2% at local level, and the Stoops got 15.0% rather than 14.2%.

The biggest anomalies for the UUP are:

East Londonderry - up 7.2% (15.6% in local elections, 8.4% in Assembly where they lost a seat)
Foyle - up 4.2% (4.2% in local election, no candidate in Assembly)
North Antrim - up 4.2% (15.9% in local elections, 11.7% in Assembly)
North Down - up 3.9% (14.3% in local elections, 10.4% in Assembly where they lost a seat)
Fermanagh and South Tyrone - up 3.8% (23.1% in local elections - more than the DUP! 19.3% in Assembly)
West Tyrone - up 3.6% (14.0% in local elections, 10.4% in Assembly though they did gain a seat)
East Belfast - up 2.9% (12.6% in local elections, 9.7% in Assembly)
South Down - up 2.7% (13.3% in local elections, 10.6% in Assembly)
South Antrim - up 2.5% (21.3% in local elections, 17.8% in Assembly)
Mid Ulster - up 2.4% (12.7% in local elections, 10.3% in Assembly)
Lagan Valley - up 1.9% (22.3% in local elections, 20.4% in Assembly)
North Belfast - up 1.1% (9.3% in local elections, 8.2% in Assembly where they lost a seat)

The first two of these are due to peculiar local circumstances, and the last two may be mistakes in my projection, but the others look pretty sound to me. It looks as if a significant number of voters were prepared to continue supporting UUP councillors and candidates at local level, but were put off by the poorly messaged and poorly managed Assembly campaign. It is noticeable that the party leader's constituency is in the first half of the table.

For the SDLP, the pattern is less clear:

Fermanagh and South Tyrone - up 3.1% (12.7% in local election, 9.6% in Assembly where they lost a seat)
West Tyrone - up 3.0% (11.5% in local elections, 8.5% in Assembly where they too gained a seat)
Mid Ulster - up 2.0% (16.7% in local elections, 14.7% in Assembly)
South Antrim - up 1.5% (12.1% in local elections, 10.6% in Assembly where they lost a seat)
Foyle - up 1.4% (36.7% in local elections, 35.3% in Assembly)
Upper Bann - up 1.3% (12.7% in local elections, 11.4% in Assembly)
Strangford - up 1.2% (9.7% in local elections, 8.5% in Assembly where they failed to gain seat)
East Belfast - up 1.0% (1.8% in local elections, 0.8% in Assembly)
West Belfast - up 0.9% (14.1% in local elections, 13.2% in Assembly)
North Antrim - up 0.2% (9.3% in local elections, 9,1% in Assembly where they lost a seat)

For all the complaints against Margaret Ritchie, who apparently may face a leadership heave later in the year, this looks more like a problem of organisation west of the Bann (and there were mitigating circumstances in West Tyrone). The Strangford figure is suggestive but unreliable because of the boundaries. The lower three barely register (though note the loss of over half the SDLP's core electorate, such as it is, in East Belfast). The one that I don't have an explanation for is South Antrim.

It happened to the other parties too, but less systematically.

For Alliance:

East Belfast - up 3.4% (29.7% in local elections, 26.3% in Assembly) - Dawn Purvis effect, perhaps?
North Belfast - up 1.8% (8.1% in local elections, 6.3% in Assembly)
Strangford - up 1.6% (16.0% in local elections, 14.4% in Assembly)
South Belfast - up 0.7% (20.5% in local elections, 19.8% in Assembly)

For the DUP

Upper Bann - up 2.3% (29.4% in local elections, 27.1% in Assembly)
West Belfast - 1.1% (8.6% in local elections, 7.5% in Assembly where UUP actually had a candidate)

And for other parties:

PUP in East Belfast up 1.3% (5.9% in local elections, 4.6% in Assembly where they lost a seat) - the Dawn Purvis effect again

SF in Lagan Valley up 1.6% (5.0% in local elections, 3.4% in Assembly where they lost a seat) - again I put this down to specific local circumstances regarding the Assembly campaign, and given the difficulty of making the projection of the Dunmurry Cross vote it may not be all that real anyway.

No doubt there are other local circumstances that I'm not aware of.
Tags: election: ni: 2011, world: northern ireland
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