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 …Fermanagh-South Tyrone
May 2016: Quota: 6740
Sinn Féin: (2 seats) 18887
DUP : (2 seats )15405
UUP (1 seat) 6028
SDLP: (1 seat) 4014
Others: TUV 1164, Green 897, Alliance 539, LabourNI 285
Sinn Féin: Michelle Gildernew, Sean Lynch, Jemma Dolan
Gildernew and Lynch are outgoing.
DUP: Arlene Foster, “Lord” Maurice Morrow.
UUP: Rosemary Barton.
SDLP: Richie McPhillips.
TUV: Alex Elliott
Alliance: Noreen Campbell.
Green: Tanya Jones
Stood in 2016.
Some Kinda Labour: Donal O’Cofaigh
Tory: Richard Dunn
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 48,000 votes and a quota of 8,000.
It is hard to see how a turn out of 65% can be improved on.
Cautionary note….in 1973, there were just five seats in the constituency and Sinn Féin abstention meant three unionists and two nationalists (SDLP). A 3:2 split in favour of unionism cannot be ruled out this time. But more likely it will be a 3:2 split for nationalism.
In Fermanagh-South Tyrone, the wagons will circle around Arlene Foster, the local hero and DUP are sitting on just about two quotas. UUP will probably drop a little. But there is a spare unionist vote of about 5,000 (maybe a little extra with TUV)
Nationalism…..SF have more than two quotas and a surplus of maybe 3,000 and SDLP about 4,800.
And the minor parties….the Green vote will break towards nationalism.
Most Alliance transfers likewise to SDLP and UUP.
And the Labour transfers….about even between SDLP and SF.
Margins here are very tight.
But I think…..DUP 2. Sinn Féin 2. SDLP 1