The key difference between Assembly 2016 and Assembly 2017 is that only five MLAs will be elected from each constituncy. For at least eighteen MLAs and their staff, this election has come four years too early.
The percentage of votes required to get elected…the quota…will be higher but I am not thinking in terms of percentages. Rather I am thinking in terms of votes cast in May last year and the number of votes likely to be cast this year.
Too often …analysts with some justification …focus on the statistics of elections. Arguably this one is different. There might actually be Politics involved.
So …Lagan Valley.
May 2016: Quota: 5551
DUP (3 seats) 18327
UUP (2 seats) 8247
Alliance (1 seat) 3707
Others: SDLP 2899, TUV 1291, Green 1118, SF 1045, UKIP 768, Tory 341, Lab 171,Democracy First 124.
Independent (Orr) 817.
DUP: Edwin Poots, Paul Givan, Brenda Hale.
UUP: Jenny Palmer, Robbie Butler.
Alliance: Trevor Lunn
SDLP: Pat Catney
Sinn Féin: Peter Doran
Green: Daniel Barros O’Neill.
Tory: Matthew Robinson
TUV: Samuel Morrison.
Independent: Jonny Orr, Keith Gray.
There are three scenarios.
People will be so disgusted at Stormont itself, that they just dont come out.
They are so disgusted at DUP-Sinn Féin, they will turn out.
DUP and Sinn Féin will play the bogey man card and people do turn out.
My gut feeling is that this election is a little like the 1998 Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Unlikely people will vote.
I am guessing at 40,000 valid votes and a quota of around 6,600.
Question 1….will DUP vote go up or down? This is heartland country but the rivalry is with UUP. Sinn Féin are irrelevant.
I would guess DUP will go down to 15,000. UUP will rise to 10,000.
Alliance….up or down? I would say they will at best stay the same. A slight drop to 3,500. Trevor Lunn will be 71 years old this year. But two Alliance councillors, albeit in Castlereagh have endorsed SDLPs Pat Catney. And Seamus Close, a former Deputy Leader of Alliance has signed Pat’s nomination papers. Former NI21 councillor Johnny McCarthy and Green Party candidate, Conor Quinn are in SDLP ranks.
So Pat Catney has the ability to reach parts other SDLP. people wont reach. So sticking my neck out here, I would say Pat Catney will out-vote Lunn.
Transfers….well with two seats going to DUP and one to UUP, there is still some unionist votes floating around….mostly UUP and TUV but some Tory.
There is also 1,000 nationalist votes available to transfer. And around the same in Green votes. SDLP should pick up around 800 and Alliance about 500 (yes I AM using the back of an envelope.
The fourth seat will go unionist but probably not too many transfers.
The final seat ……well
OK……DUP 2. UUP 2 SDLP 1.