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: 5020.
DUP (3 seats) 13,188
UUP (1 seat) 7792
Sinn Féin (1 seat) 4632
Alliance (1 seat) 3119
Others: SDLP 3366, TUV 1318, Green 589, UKIP 574, Independent 483, Tory 472.
DUP: Paul Girvan, Trevor Clarke, Pam Cameron.
UUP: Steve Aiken, Adrian Cochrane-Watson.
Aiken is outgoing.
Sinn Féin: Declan Kearney.
Alliance: David Ford.
SDLP: Roisin Lynch.
Stood in Westminster 2015 and Assembly 2016.
TUV: Richard Cairns.
Stood in Westminster 2015 and Assembly 2016
Green: Eleanor Bailey.
People Before Profit: Ivana Antova.
Tory: Mark Logan.
Independent: David McMaster
Stood last year.
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 36,000 votes and a quota of 6,000.
DUP have only two safe quotas. Maybe just 12,500 votes. It does not look good for the third DUP seat.
UUP will improve to about 8,500…still short of a second quota.
There are also other unionist votes floating around…notably TUV but still not enough to put together a quota.
The PBP and Green transfers will go mostly to SDLP, Sinn Féin and. Possibly some Alliance.
So a lot depends on the the positions of SDLP, Sinn Féin and Alliance.
I expect SF to poll 4,300 first preferences (down on 2016) and SDLP to poll 3,800 (up on 2016).
The Alliance vote is curious…5,007 (2007), 4,554 (2011) and 3,119 (2016).
For the sake of a bit of controversy…..
DUP 2. UUP 1. Sinn Féin 1…….and SDLP 1. (Yes it is partly wishful thinking but Id love to see the back of David Ford )