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: 5672
SDLP (2 seats) 11900
Sinn Féin (2 seats) 11300
DUP (1 seat) 4737
People Before Profit (1 seat) 4176
Others: Independent (McCloskey) 3410, Independent (Devaney) 1173, Independent (Bradley) 900, UUP 1420, CISTA 259, Alliance 238, Green 157, Tory 36.
SDLP: Colum Eastwood, Mark H Durkan,
Sinn Féin: Raymond McCartney, Eilish McCallion.
McCartney is outgoing. Martin McGuinness has retired.
DUP: Gary Middleton.
People Before Profit: Eamonn McCann.
UUP: Julia Kee.
Stood last year
Alliance: Colm Cavanagh.
Green: Shannon Downey
CISTA: John Lindsay
Tory: Stuart Canning
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 most 42,000 votes and a quota of 7,000.
The Independent Anne McCloskey polled well in 2016. Her 3,000 votes will go in a ratio of 2:1 for SDLP. With Colum Eastwood performing well as SDLP Leader and the retirement of Martin McGuinness, Id expect SDLP to gain from Eamonn McCann and to increase from 11,900 to 14,000 …there are two safe quotas.
Likewise Devaney (ex DUP) stood last year and his 1,000 votes should go to Gary Middleton. He may need transfers from Julia Kee when she is eliminated but he should get elected.
I expect Sinn Féin to slip back to 10,500…only safe for one seat.
But Eamonn McCann…..sometimes I wonder that despite his constant standing in elections, he never expected or wanted to be elected in 2016. Getting elected interupted his busy schedule of being interviewed on Derry’s Walls and generally pontificating to younger people (yes I recognise a kindred spirit).
His support for BREXIT should help him get unelected in 2017.
SDLP 2. Sinn Féin 2. DUP 1.