May 27th, 2014


That Northern Ireland European Parliament election, then

It seemed to take a very long time to get the first results through for the European election yesterday at the King's Hall. Having originally arranged to help out with the BBC's coverage from 2.15 to 4.15 pm, I was still there at 6.30 when the first preference votes were announced, and hung around for another hour or so until the second count came through. I did check with Brussels friends who thought that Estonia might be the only other place in the EU still counting; but Estonian sources reassured me the their results were through (ex-Prime Minister Ansip pulling his party just about into first place to win a hard-fought extra seat, if you are interested).

First Count

Anyway, the first preferences in Northern Ireland were (with % change from 2009):

Martina Anderson (SF) 159,813 (25.5%, -0.5%) elected
Diane Dodds (DUP) 131,163 (20.9%, +2.7%)
Jim Nicholson (UUP) 83,438 (13.3%, -3.8%) - worst UUP euro result
Alex Attwood (SDLP) 81,594 (13.0%, -3.2%) - worst ever SDLP result
JIm Allister (TUV) 75,806 (12.1%, -1.6%)
Anna Lo (Alliance) 44,432 (7.1%, +1.6%) - best ever euro result
Henry Reilly (UKIP) 24,584 (3.9%)
Ross Brown (Green) 10,598 (1.7% -1.6%)
Tina McKenzie (NI21) 10,553 (1.7%)
Mark Brotherston (Conservative) 4,144 (0.7%)
(NB Nicholson supported by Conservatives in 2009.)

Total poll 636,093 (51%, up from 43% last time); total vald poll 626,125.

As I was poring over the figures, Peter Weir pointed out to me that this is the first time ever that a majority of votes cast in a Northern Ireland-wide election have been cast for women (Anderson + Dodds + Lo + McKenzie = 55.2%).

NB also Unionist total (inc UKIP and Con but not NI21) 50.2% (+1.9%);  Nationalist total 38.5% (-3.7%).

Collapse ) It's fairly clear what will happen this morning: Reilly's transfers will generally go to Unionist parties (he told me he thought they would be fairly evenly divided) which will pull Nicholson ahead of Attwood again; Lo's transfers may well favour Attwood over Nicholson; and Allister will then be eliminated, electing Dodds and Nicholson on the final count.

I shall be on and off planes all day, though, so you'll have to analyse it without me.

May Books 7) Parasite, by "Mira Grant"

Another Hugo nomination for the eminently successful Seanan McGuire, no longer in the zombie mode but now portraying a near future California where everyone's life has been transformed by ingesting bio-engineered tapeworms. The presentation is rather similar to her zombie trilogy, each chapter being prefaced by material supposedly from other sources and the first-person narration almost identical in tone, but I felt the setting was a significant improvement - I don't really get the zombie thing anyway, so the only way was up.

Significant marks off, however, for 1) the remarkable coincidence that the protagonist and her boyfriend just happen to have parents who are significantly involved in the central scientific problem and 2) the shock twist at the end that any sensible reader will have worked out by roughly the third chapter, yet the narrator has not seen it coming at all. secretcrush has written it up in more detail including massive spoiler.