Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

#AE17 Strangford: Could both UUP and DUP lose out to Bell?

Strangford is another heavily Unionist seat, taking in Newtownards, Comber, the Peninsula and Saintfield. 70.1% of the vote (and that doesn't include an independent from that part of the spectrum) delivered five Unionist MLAs last time, the combined Nationalist vote of 10.3% being less than Alliance's 10.7%, thus enabling Alliance to take the sixth seat.

2016 result
DUP 14,037 (43.0%, -5.8%) 3 seats
UUP 6,367 (19.5%, -0.9%) 2 seats
TUV 1,407 (4.3%, +1.5%)
UKIP 759 (2.3%, +0.3%)
Conservatives 314 (1.0%)

Alliance 3,499 (10.7%, -3.7%) 1 seat
Independents 1,947 (6.0%)
Green 924 (2.8%)

SDLP 2,724 (8.3%, -0.2%)
Sinn Féin 661 (2.0%, -1.0%)
2017 candidates
@Simon Hamilton (DUP)
@Michelle McIlveen (DUP)
^Peter Weir (DUP)
@Mike Nesbitt (UUP)
@Philip Smith (UUP)
Stephen Cooper (TUV)
Scott Benton (Cons)
@Jonathan Bell (Independent)
Jimmy Menagh (Ind)

@Kellie Armstrong (Alliance)
Ricky Bamford (Green)

Joe Boyle (SDLP)
Dermot Kennedy (SF)


Seven incumbent MLAs are standing here, the six elected in 2016 and Peter Weir, who is moving from neighbouring North Down. There are only two women among the thirteen candidates. Jonathan Bell, elected as DUP in 2016, is now running as an independent. The DUP are defending three seats with 2.6 quotas; the UUP are defending two seats with 1.2 quotas; and Alliance is defending its seat with 0.6 of a quota. In 2016 there were 4.2 Unionist quotas, not counting the independents, and 0.6 of a quota went to the Nationalist parties.

All three incumbent parties have difficult defences here. Six retiring Unionist MLAs are chasing four seats, so at least two of them will lose. A lot will depend on the performance of Jonathan Bell without a party machine behind him. I would not be totally surprised to see him take a seat and see both of the main Unionist parties lose out. Strangford has had an occasional maverick tendency.

The Alliance seat is more secure, provided that the party's vote share stays decently ahead of the SDLP. The SDLP have been runners-up here in all five Assembly elections since the Good Friday Agreement; the cut in the number of seats makes even holding that status a difficult challenge.

Tags: election: ni: 2017
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