DUP: Jonathan Bell. MIchelle McIlveen. SImon Hamilton.Harry Harvey.
UUP: Mike Nesbitt. Philip Smith.
Alliance: Kellie Armstrong.
TUV: Stephen Cooper.
SDLP: Joe Boyle.
Sinn Féin: Dermot Kennedy.
Green: Georgia Grainger.
Conservative: Bill McKendry.
Independant: Jimmy Menagh.
Independent: Rab McCartney.
A unionist stronghold which returned three DUP, two UUP (one later defected to UKIP) and one Alliance.
All three outgoing DUP MLAs …Bell, McIlveen and Hamilton have been or are Ministers in the Executive. With more than half the votes cast in 2011 and a big majority in the 2015 Westminster Election, it is a near certainty that three DUP will be elected again.
The position for UUP is different. Party Leader, “TV Mike” Nesbitt defends his seat with (unknown to me) Philip Smith. David McNarry, elected in 2011 defected to UKIP but is not standing but the Westminster election shows that there is a quota for UKIP or (more likely) TUV if the transfers work to their advantage. But transfers from the eliminated Tory should help UUP.
Veteran, Kieran McCarthy is retired so the Alliance Party is being represented by Kellie Armstrong. WIsely Ms Armstrong stood in the Westminster Election and performed well enough to show she can retain the seat.
On the nationalist side, Apathy is a problem. SDLP has come close but not close enough. Personally, I think Geography is a bigger problem. The constituency extends from suburban south east Belfast to the County Down countryside and via the main town of Newtownards down the Ards Peninsula. The SDLP outvotes Sinn Féin here by nearly three to one. SDLP success depends on nationalist turnout and picking up about 1,000 extra votes, mostly from Alliance…McCarthy and Joe Boyle (SDLP) are both from the Peninsula…and an “Eastwood bounce”….and of course transfers from Sinn Féin.
Sticking my neck out here but I think this might be the year SDLP takes Strangford.
Prediction: DUP 3, UUP 1, SDLP 1, TUV 1.