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Northern Ireland election predictions

Have spent this weekend (and chunks of the last) tidying up my elections site. Not being on the ground, it's impossible to have a sense of the likely shift of votes; and opinion polls are notoriously useless. But, on the basis of the twin elections for Westminster and the local councils in 2005, I can say the following:

i) The DUP are likely to keep the three gains made by defection from the UUP after the last Assembly election (two seats in Lagan Valley and one in Fermanagh-South Tyrone); and in fact I see three further easy gains for them, in East Belfast from PUP leader David Ervine, and in North and South Belfast, from the UUP. They have outside chances of further gains from the UUP in East Londonderry and Mid Ulster, but are vulnerable to Sinn Fein in West Belfast

ii) The Alliance Party has tricky defences in Lagan Valley, South Antrim and Strangford, but I remain optimistic (indeed they ought to have a chance of picking up one of the Nationalist seats in South Belfast).

iii) The fate of independent MLA Kieran Deeny in West Tyrone is an interesting question. In 2003 he won a seat from the SDLP which in my view would otherwise have fallen to Sinn Fein. He put in a storming cross-community perfomance in the 2005 general election, though failed to win. While SF is certain to win two seats, and the Unionists another two, it's very difficult to read which two out of Deeny, the SDLP, and a third SF candidate will make it.

iv) With total certainty, I can predict that some of the above predictions are wrong.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
Looks good!
If the election goes ahead and their current jitters persist, do you think the DUP would be vulnerable to a revived UKUP or will we see interesting patterns between pro and anti SAA candidates?


BTW the map on the home page is no longer clickable (by design?).


Conal.
nwhyte
Dec. 10th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Looks good!
Bother - I must have deleted the clickability by accident. Will see if I can restore it, but I may have to ask you for help (yet again).

It's quite difficult to see Bob McCartney mobilising significant resources against the DUP, simply because he has now pissed off so many people that I find it hard to believe anyone will ever work with him. Much more likely is the second possibility, the DUP behaving like the UUP under Trimble, with pro and anti factions - but (again, as with Trimble) the pros in the majority and (unlike Trimble) with more external resources to call on if needed.

Anyway, we'll see.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Looks good!
I think the image map code is available on the
2005 Westminster results page
(http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fw05.htm).
inuitmonster
Dec. 11th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
There was a chortlesome radio report on an anti-agreement speech that McCartney was giving in Portadown, where only 80 people showed up. Or is 80 people a lot in Northern Ireland?
nwhyte
Dec. 11th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC)
...it is in Portadown

Hee hee hee!
timrollpickerin
Dec. 17th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
Looking through your predictions I'm a little uncertain as to whether the new boundaries will take effect before the next assembly election - which seems most likely?

Of the individual seats:

East Belfast - Ervine seems to generally outpoll the rest of his party - are predictions of his demise dubious or is he on his ninth life? Also, although only of symbolic interest, on the first preferences any guesses about the scale of the gap between Robinson and Empey?

South Belfast - Was 2005 just a case of Sinn Fein suffering from local matters and also the pressure for tactical voting? Also just how well is the Chinese community organised and registered? For that matter is it homogenous?

North Antrim - Are the DUP good at vote management when they have a lot of candidates? Or could they find themselves leaking at the wrong moment like SF in West Belfast?

North Down - Just how many times has McCartney announced his retirement from politics, only to stand again? Also IIRC he didn't actually get quota last time and the combined DUP/UKUP proportion of votes has been remarkably static since 2001, with the UUP benefitting from transfers. Could this be Bob's endgame?

South Down - I presume that Dermot Nesbitt's retirement is unlikely to tip the balance? Indeed more generally how much impact do you think retirements will have in the races that look close?

Lagan Valley - What impact if any do you reckon homophobia will have on this election, given the new laws and Close's departure?

Newry and Armagh - Will Paul Berry be going his own way?

Strangford - Again is the DUP vote management good enough to balance four candidates?

West Tyrone - What's the current state of play on the hospital? Also Deeney's vote base in 2003 seemed to be concentrated on Omagh - could geography again decide it?
nwhyte
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
Tim,

East Belfast - Ervine seems to generally outpoll the rest of his party - are predictions of his demise dubious or is he on his ninth life?

Same was true of Billy Hutchinson in north Belfast last time; if the votes aren't there, they just aren't there.

Also, although only of symbolic interest, on the first preferences any guesses about the scale of the gap between Robinson and Empey?

No, I don't care.

South Belfast - Was 2005 just a case of Sinn Fein suffering from local matters and also the pressure for tactical voting?

I'm not sure what you mean by "just". SF's vote fell; the SDLP's went up, for partially related reasons. Those factors have receded but not entirely disappeared.

Also just how well is the Chinese community organised and registered? For that matter is it homogenous?

I have no idea!

North Antrim - Are the DUP good at vote management when they have a lot of candidates? Or could they find themselves leaking at the wrong moment like SF in West Belfast?

In this case I don't think it matters. They have enough votes and to spare for three seats, and are far enough away from the fourth that even the most efficient transfers won't make much difference.

North Down - Just how many times has McCartney announced his retirement from politics, only to stand again? Also IIRC he didn't actually get quota last time and the combined DUP/UKUP proportion of votes has been remarkably static since 2001, with the UUP benefitting from transfers. Could this be Bob's endgame?

It would be nice to see him finally eliminated, I admit. But I think there are enough votes out there to keep him in even if he runs the worst campaign imaginable.

South Down - I presume that Dermot Nesbitt's retirement is unlikely to tip the balance? Indeed more generally how much impact do you think retirements will have in the races that look close?

1) Indeed. 2) Much less than people think (with the sole exception of the SDLP in Lagan Valley).

Lagan Valley - What impact if any do you reckon homophobia will have on this election, given the new laws and Close's departure?

No impact at all. Nobody (except just possibly Seamus) was going to run on the issue; the Alliance candidate replacing him will be the same guy who organised his campaigns for the last X years. Patricia Lewsley's retirement is of much greater significance.

Newry and Armagh - Will Paul Berry be going his own way?

No idea, but I doubt it.

Strangford - Again is the DUP vote management good enough to balance four candidates?

Again, I doubt it.

West Tyrone - What's the current state of play on the hospital? Also Deeney's vote base in 2003 seemed to be concentrated on Omagh - could geography again decide it?

Good questions, and I don't know the answer to either!
timrollpickerin
Dec. 21st, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for the response - just two further seats:

Newry & Armagh (again, but not the comedy of Berry trying to swing something different). Sinn Fein have deselected two MLAs - could this strengthen or weaken their defence against the SDLP? And is 3/6 a high water mark for sitting MLAs losing party backing?

North Down - As ever a difficult one to call but how do you rate the Greens' chances, or rather Brian Wilson? Posters on Slugger are suggesting that Wilson could benefit from Eileen Bell's retirement.
nwhyte
Dec. 23rd, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Sorry to take a while to respond to this.

On Newry and Armagh: Apparently the Shinner deselection story isn't over yet, but anyway I'm inclined to feel that this is a party vote rather than a personality vote - it's not like many of them have personalities, is it? Presumably the sitting MLAs have been deselected because the other candidates were thought more likely to win the seats; there is no other good reason for it!

Your 3/6 question is a good one! In East Belfast in 2003, only three sitting MLAs stood, but Sammy Wilson was fighting a seat elsewhere and John Alderdice had retired. Worth looking into that further.

As for North Down, it's difficult to see why this year should be any better for the Greens than previous years; Brian Wilson's vote share and percentage as a Green candidate in 2005 were actually down from his previous outing as an independent in 2001, and Wilson + Greens is still less than Alliance in all recent elections.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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