September 11th, 2018

politics

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Boundary Commission - the detailed projections

So, the Boundary Commission’s report is finally out, as already discussed by Mick and commentators here. As ever I have done some number-crunching; details below but here are the headlines.

At Westminster level, five currently DUP-held seats are squashed into four - East Londonderry is replaced by the new seat of Causeway; most of North Antrim becomes Mid Antrim; South Antrim is split several ways, and the new seat with that name actually has more of the old Lagan Valley in it; the old Strangford largely becomes Mid Down. North Down loses Holywood to East Belfast but takes in the Ards Peninsula.

This means that the DUP lose one of their seats (effectively the old South Antrim). But on the raw numbers, this is compensated by the large number Ards Peninsula voters added to North Down, who may not be very helpful for the small majority of Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon - though it should be noted that she argued for that change herself, and as she was not a candidate in the Peninsula last year, we don’t know what result she would have got.

At Assembly level, the abolished Antrim seat takes with it, in theory, two DUP MLAs and one each from the UUP, Alliance, and the Nationalists (probably the SDLP seat which was narrowly and unexpectedly won in Lagan Valley last year). But enough Unionist voters go into West Belfast to create a notional gain for the DUP from Sinn Fein, and the shift of voters from the old East Londonderry to Causeway is probably enough to deprive the SDLP of another of their unexpected wins last year, likely also to the benefit of the DUP.

So I project last year’s vote onto the new boundaries to give the DUP 28 seats out of 85 (no change), SF 26 (-1), the SDLP 10 (-2), the UUP 9 (-1), Alliance 7 (-1) and the Greens holding 2, with the TUV, People Before Profit and the independent MLA Claire Sugden holding their single seats.

These numbers of course must be considered as only a rough guide to the new political landscape. The one thing that is certain about the next election is that voters will vote differently to the way they did last time. How differently? Only time will tell.

And that, of course, assumes that these boundaries ever come into force in the first place...

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