February 16th, 2017


Interesting Links for 16-02-2017


#AE17 North Down: DUP have conceded third seat; is that it?

North Down is the wealthy coastal fringe east of Belfast. Unionists won four seats here in 2016 with 63.3% of the vote; the total Nationalist vote was a microscopic 2.3%. Alliance and the Greens won the other two seats with 16.8% and 12.7% respectively.

2016 result
DUP 13,446 (41.7%, -2.5%) 3 seats
UUP 4,987 (15.5%, +5.1%) 1 seat
UKIP 681 (2.1%, -0.1%)
Conservatives 672 (2.1%)
TUV 610 (1.9%)

Alliance 5,399 (16.8%, -1.8%) 1 seat
Green 4,109 (12.7%, +4.8%) 1 seat
Independent 1,415 (4.4%)
NI Labour 177 (0.5%)

SDLP 426 (1.3%, -1.4%)
Sinn Féin 307 (1.0%, no change)
2017 candidates
@Gordon Dunne (DUP)
@Alex Easton (DUP)
@Alan Chambers (UUP)
William Cudworth (UUP)
Frank Shivers (Cons)

@Stephen Farry (Alliance)
@Steven Agnew (Green)
Chris Carter (Ind)
Melanie Kennedy (Ind)
Gavan Reynolds (Ind)

Caoimhe McNeill (SDLP)
Kieran Maxwell (SF)

All six MLAs elected in 2016 are standing again, but Peter Weir of the DUP has transferred to the neighbouring constituency of Strangford. There are only two women among the 12 candidates. The DUP are defending three seats with 2.5 quotas here and, crucially, only two candidates; Alliance are defending theirs with just over a full quota, the UUP are defending theirs with just over one full quota, and the Greens start with 0.8 of a quota. In 2016 there were 3.8 Unionist quotas and 0.1 of a quota for the Nationalist parties.

On the face of it, therefore, the most likely outcome is that the DUP hold two seats easily, having already conceded their third, and the remaining three incumbents also hold theirs. But this is a very fissile and sometimes volatile constituency, which has been represented at Westminster by independents or micro-parties for thirty of the last forty years, so anything is possible. (And by "anything" I guess I mean a resurgent UUP taking one of the non-aligned seats.)


#AE17 Mid Ulster: SF's third seat the most vulnerable

Perched on the western shore of Lough Neagh, Mid Ulster includes Magherafelt, Cookstown and Coalisland. 61.9% of the vote got Nationalists four MLAs last time, with Unionists winning the other two with 35.2%.

2016 result
DUP 7,393 (18.1%, +1.4%) 1 seat
UUP 4,862 (11.9%, +1.6%) 1 seat
TUV 1,877 (4.6%, -0.3%)
UKIP 256 (0.6%)

Alliance 471 (1.2%, +0.3%)
Green 349 (0.9%)
Workers' Party 316 (0.8%)

Sinn Féin 19,015 (46.7%, -2.5%) 3 seats
SDLP 6,209 (15.2%, +0.5%) 1 seat
2017 candidates
@Keith Buchanan (DUP)
@Sandra Overend (UUP)
Hannah Loughrin (TUV)

Fay Watson (Alliance)
Stefan Taylor (Green)
Hugh Scullion (WP)
Hugh McCloy (Ind)

@Patsy McGlone (SDLP)
@Linda Dillon (SF)
@Ian Milne (SF)
@Michelle O'Neill (SF)

All six incumbent MLAs are seeking re-election. SF are defending three seats with 2.8 quotas; the DUP are defending one with 1.1 quotas; the SDLP and UUP are defending theirs respectively with 0.9 and 0.7 of a quota. In 2016 there were 2.1 Unionist quotas and 3.7 Nationalist quotas.

The two Unionist seats look safe enough (the UUP perhaps a little more precarious), so the seat lost is more likely to be a Nationalist one. SF have two safe, but have a more difficult challenge for the third; it will take mathematically precise balancing, which is very difficult to pull off in a constituency where the new leader may prove a vote magnet, so my gut feeling is that they are more likely to lose out and the SDLP will probably survive here.