Profile: Fermanagh-South Tyrone

Candidates:
DUP: Arlene Foster. Maurice (Lord) Morrow.
UUP: Alastair Patterson. Rosemary Barton.
Sinn Féin: Michelle Gildernew. Sean Lynch. Phil Flanagan. John Feely.
SDLP: Richie McPhillips.
Alliance: Kerri Blyberg.
Green: Tanya Jones.
Labour Representation: Damien Harris.
TUV: Donald Crawford.

The 2011 breakdown here was three Sinn Féin, two DUP and one UUP. SF narrowly took a seat ahead of SDLP.
The 2014 local election showed a SDLP recovery and they now have a councillor in each of the DEAs in the constituency. With 12% of the vote should be enough to take the seat back.
Predictably the 2015 Westminster election was tribal and Michelle Gildernew (SF) lost out to Tom Elliott (UUP). It was a blow to Sinn Féin. With UUP and SF taking over 90% of votes cast, the only real pointer for 2016 is that there will be three nationalists and three unionists elected.
Since their defeat, SF have managed to make a bad situation worse, with a succession of botched selection conventions. The first one dumped outgoing MLA Phil Flanagan. The second dumped Gildernew and managed to select three Fermanagh men, weakening their position with South Tyrone and women voters. The third convention added Gildernew to the ticket but four candidates seems too many.
Phil Flanagan is either a loose cannon or semi-detached from his Party but has arguably the second highest profile behind Gilnernew. Vote management will be vital for them to retain three seats….and yet their strategy is a “secret”.
Richie McPhillips has reason to be confident. The 2014 votes are a better indication of the true strength of SDLP in the constituency. And SDLP will be transfer -friendly to the minor parties such as Alliance and Greens.
With only four “serious” unionists on the ballot paper, the breakdown will be two DUP…First Minister Arlene Foster and Maurice Morrow will be re-elected. Alastair Patterson recently co-opted for Neil Somerville (himself a co-option for Tom Elliott) is probably better placed than Rosemary Barton.

So….prediction ….DUP 2, Sinn Féin 2, UUP 1, SDLP 1.

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One Response to Profile: Fermanagh-South Tyrone

  1. Brian says:

    I think if your prediction comes true then that would be satisfying evidence of a SDLP improvement. I think its one of about 4 or 5 really important constituencies for SDLP.

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