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 …East Derry
May 2016: Quota: 4915
DUP: (3 seats) 12674
Sinn Féin: (1 seat) 7495
Independent (Sugden) : (1 seat) 3270
SDLP: (1seat) 3265
Others: UUP 2866, PUP 1356, Alliance 1257, TUV 1191, Green 434, Tory 266,
DUP: Adrian McQuillan, George Robinson, Maurice Bradley.
Sinn Féin: Caoimhe Archibald, Cathal Ó hoisin
Caoimhe Archibald is outgoing.
Independent: Claire Sugden.
Independent: Gerry Mullan.
Elected as SDLP in 2016.
SDLP: John Dallat
Stood down in 2016.
UUP: William McCandless
Stood in 2016.
Alliance: Chris McCaw.
TUV: Jordan Armstrong
Stood last year.
PUP: Russel Watton
Stood last year.
Tory: David Harding.
Stood last year.
Green: Anthony Flynn.
People Before Profit: Gavin Campbell.
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.
I find East Derry to be an odd constituency. Almost anonymous. And seemingly apolitical with just 50 per cent of the electorate bothering to vote last year. Turnout can hardly get worse so I see a slight increase to 36,000 and a quota of about 6,000.
Being the political geek/nerd that I am, I can usually write these profiles and not look up my records to name the sitting MLAs.
Well, East Derry is different. I had to look up the DUP MLAs. They may be household names (in their own households) but I wouldnt recognise them if they walked down the street.
There is a reasonable TUV and PUP vote here but clearly DUP need a lot of extra votes/transfers to defend the third seat.
Sinn Féin have a safe quota.
Claire Sugden was co-opted to the Assembly after the death of Independent (formerly UUP) David McClarty. She held the seat last year. It is effectively a UUP quota. UUP with two candidates last year could not get 3,000 votes.
As Sugden blotted her Independent credentials by accepting the Justice Ministry to prop up DUP-SF and a less than credible performance when the RHI scandal broke, she will lose votes and UUP will gain. She can expect little in the way of “moderate” transfers from Green and Alliance.
There is a UUP quota there but I think Sugden will lose out to McCandless.
Is there a second nationalist quota. There should be. Sinn Féin have votes to spare and SDLP have a candidate to spare. Sad to say, SDLP has managed to shoot itself in the foot….but whether it is a mortal wound or an irritation (like West Tyrone last year) remains to be seen.
John Dallat is back as the SDLP candidate. Gerry Mullan is de-selected. Seemingly a lot of acrimony and its never a good image. But probably the voters will look past it. Importantly, this is close to Colum Eastwood’s base and the SDLP “establishment” are firmly with Dallat.
DUP 2. UUP 1 Sinn Féin 1…..hmmm SDLP 1