Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

#AE17 North Belfast: very difficult to call, perhaps SDLP worst placed?

North Belfast is the most divided part of the city, Unionists and Nationalists winning three seats each here in 2016 with 47.7% and 37.1% respectively.

2016 result
DUP 12,783 (35.0%, -2.1%) 3 seats
UUP 1,972 (5.4%, -2.8%)
PUP 1,238 (3.4%)
UKIP 751 (2.1%)
TUV 644 (1.8%)

Alliance 2,569 (7.0%, +0.9%)
PBP 1,286 (3.5%)
Green 796 (2.2%)
WP 476 (1.3%, +0.3%)
Inds 330 (0.9%)
NILRC 127 (0.3%)
NI First 32 (0.1%)

SF 9,704 (26.5%, -5.4%) 2 seats
SDLP 3,866 (10.6%, -1.4%) 1 seat
2017 candidates
@Paula Bradley (DUP)
@William Humphrey (DUP)
@Nelson McCausland (DUP)
Robert Foster (UUP)
Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston (PUP)

Nuala McAllister (Alliance)
Malachai O'Hara (Green)
Gemma Weir (WP)
Fiona Ferguson (PBP)
Adam Miller (Independent)

@Nichola Mallon (SDLP)
@Gerry Kelly (SF)
@Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin)

All six incumbent MLAs are standing again; three of them are women, and indeed this is the only constituency where women candidates outnumber men (by 7 to 6).

The DUP are defending three seats with 2.1 quotas; SF are defending two seats with 1.6 quotas; and the SDLP are defending their seat with 0.6 of a quota. In 2016 there were 2.9 Unionist quotas and only 2.2 Nationalist quotas on the first count; the gap narrowed but did not close in subsequent counts.

Two of the three DUP seats are safe, and one of the two SF seats likewise. There is probably a third Unionist seat, but it is not clear who is best placed to win it. On paper, the DUP were so far in advance of the other parties last time that they should be considered to have a strong position this time, but I hear that they are under pressure.

On the non-Unionist side, the SDLP seat is weakest but it is nonetheless tough for SF to keep both of theirs. Alliance were runners-up last time; if they are eliminated this time, their votes will help the SDLP. On the other hand, the reverse may also be the case; Alliance were not far behind last time, and have pulled off unexpected gains from a low base in North Belfast before. (Though notably not in 1996, as I have personal cause to remember.)

I guess an SDLP loss is the most likely outcome; but things are very finely balanced.

Tags: election: ni: 2017

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