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.
May 2016: Quota: 4605
DUP (3 seats) 14037
UUP (2 seats) 6367
Alliance ( 1 seat) 3500
Others: SDLP 2724, Independent (Menagh) 1840, TUV 1407, Green 925, UKIP 759, Sinn Féin 661, Tory 315, Independent (McCartney) 105
DUP: Simon Hamilton, Michelle McIlveen, Peter Weir
All outgoing but Weir brought in from North Down
Independent: Jonathan Bell
Outgoing but elected as DUP
UUP: Mike Nesbitt, Philip Smith
Alliance: Kellie Armstrong
SDLP: Joe Boyle
Stood in 2016
Sinn Féin: Dermot Kennedy
Stood in 2016
TUV: Stephen Cooper
Stood in 2016
Green: Ricky Bamford
Tory: Scott Benton
INdependent: Jimmy Menagh
Stood in 2016 and polled well.
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 33,000 votes and a quota of 5,500
This is a tricky one with seven outgoing MLAs and a high profile casualty more than likely. Some DUP voters will turn to Bell. All that “Jesus” business plays well in the DUP heartland. So my first thought is that DUP will actually lose votes. I would be surprised if their three candidates get more than 11,500 this time and that puts a seat in jeopardy.
I can see the First Count going:
McIlveen 4,500 Hamilton 4,000 Weir 3,000 (I am assuming Weir has Bells old territory)
NEsbitt 5,000 Smith 3,000
Cooper 1600 Menagh 900 …..adds about 2,000 votes….say 1,500 Bell and 500 DUP.
Kennedy (last year proclaimed next MLA for Strangford by Mairtín OMuilleoir) 1000….500 of which go to Boyle and maybe 200 to Alliance.
Bamford 1000….with 300 going to Boyle and 300 Alliance and the rest of the transferrable vote a mixture.
When the five minor candidates are eliminated.
Bell will move to 4,000
McIlveen 4,700 Hamilton 4,200 Weir 3,100
Nesbitt will be on or around 5,500 but with a small surplus …Smith on 3,300
Armstrong now on 4,400
Boyle now on 4,000
Weir eliminated. Mc Ilveen and Hamilton elected with 2,000 votes to spare.
Distribution Smith gets 1,200 now on 4,500
Armstrong surplus takes Smith ahead of Bell
Sound plausible? DUP 2 UUP 2 Alliance 1