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: 6819
Sinn Féin (3 seats) 19514
SDLP (1 seats) 8700
DUP ( 1 seat) 7980
UUP (1 seat) 6745
Others: Independent (Berry) 1665, Independent (McAllister) 940, CISTA 1032, Alliance 493, Green 335, UKIP 315.
Sinn Féin: Conor Murphy, Cathal Boylan, Meagan Fearon
SDLP: Justin McNulty
DUP: William Irwin
UUP: Danny Kennedy
Green: Rowan Tunnicliffe
Alliance: Jackie Coade
CISTA: Emmet Crossan.
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 48,000 votes and a quota of 8,000. Thats a very high quota. Only nine candidates and three are also-rans.
If William Irwin (DUP) retains his own vote and takes some of the Paul Berry votes and the UKIP votes, then he will exceed the quota on the first count.
Fellow unionist Danny Kennedy of UUP will be short of a quota.
On the nationalist side, Justin McNulty should exceed the quota.
For Sinn Féin, it is more problematic. Around 21,000 votes split three ways does not look promising and whether SF favour two of their people (Murphy and Fearon) more than Boylan might be a cause of disagreement when territory is marked out. If SF really try to distribute their vote equally, it does not look likely that any of the three will exceed the quota.
Danny Kennedy has already gone on record as saying that he wont be transferring to SDLP. In his case, it is academic as he wont have votes to transfer. Rather he is looking for a lifeline from Irwin. Irwin’s surplus will take him to the quota.
SDLP voters in Newry-Armagh would be crazy to transfer to Kennedy as there is clearly no reciprocation. Most of McNulty’s transferrable vote will go to the Sinn Féin candidates.
Cannabis and Green transfers will go “left” and at best Alliance transfers will be mixed.
Clearly SF will get two seats.
The fifth seat is either SF or UUP…..I think UUP is more likely.
Sinn Féin 2. SDLP 1. DUP 1. UUP 1