A Day in a Field


As we approach the 11th night and the Orange Orders 12th of July celebrations for this year I’ve been reflecting on the changes that have occurred and how so many things remain the same. There is a depressing repetitive narrative each year surrounding this gerry Bonfireweekend and the fallout which often continues for a considerable period afterwards. From a broadly nationalist perspective there is a sense of incredulity at the perceived nihilistic, self destructive behaviour of the “bonfire crowd” as well as the, at best, ambiguous response of political unionism. I’m struck by the contrasting views withing unionism towards the whole thing. I also note that this year there are subtle changes.

Carrickally of this parish blogged eloquently on this blog last year about what the 12th meant to him. It was a welcome article and described a cultural celebration that was of great importance to him. It painted a picture of a day which threatened nobody and, although not something I would partake in, I would have no objections to. Unfortunately, Medusa like, there is more than one head to this snake. Unionism is famously diverse in its opinions and difficult to unify except in the face of a common threat. Therefore a common threat must be identified if political unionism is to endure and thrive. For the avoidance of doubt that threat has “traditionally” been the likes of me, my flag and my fellow citizens in this part of the world. The threat this year appears to be extended to Anna Lo, the virgin Mary, Pakistan, Poland, the people of Palestine and the Ivory Coast amongst others. I hear not a single unionist voice raised against this. Not one.

Yet I see subtle things. Perhaps I am mistaken. The Orange Order have actually discouraged violent protest this year. It is qualified but it is a start. It certainly makes a change from the threats of yesteryear.  One of the most interesting contributions has been made by Sammy Wilson of all people. Read the last six paragraphs of this. A direct challenge to his party leader and the Orange Order I would think.

A vibrant self confident culture is one which finds expression in a celebration in the positive celebration of its virtues and which stands proudly anywhere in the world. A culture that finds expression in burning the flags and images of its perceived enemies is a culture that is dying. I would be happy to see Carickallys vision taking its place as part of the nation but until the ugly snake is confronted and defeated within the unionist community, until the silence is ended, until respect is shown instead of hypocritically demanded, that day is some distance off.

Belfast 2014.


Below is Faha’s analysis of the Belfast Council election results. I’m sure the consistent theme of this round of elections will be obvious to all. An increasingly apathetic nationalist electorate is bucking the demographic trend. Today’s news reports the usual Unionist rhetoric of threatening anarchy and ungovernable escalation of protesting fleggers. (Clue- the Orange Card). We are now at the stage where these threats are being openly ridiculed and laughed at. That hasn’t quite dawned on the “leaders” of unionism quite yet. Over to Faha:

This final analysis of the district council election covers the Belfast City Council. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

 

               Belfast 2014             Belfast 2011                  Change 
SF 31822 34862 -3040
SDLP 10892 14428 -3536
Nationalist 6233 4171 2062
Alliance 12478 14167 -1689
Green 2524 1441 1083
NI21 2953 0 2953
UUP 9804 9090 714
DUP 20751 25539 -4788
TUV 2883 594 2289
PUP 7096 2893 4203
UKIP 1162 0 1162
Unionist 196 1287 -1091
Conservative 361 128 233
     
Total 109155 108600 555
 

 

     

It was difficult to determine the change in party vote in Dunmurry Cross, Castlereagh West and Castlereagh East since these DEA’s were divided between Belfast and Lisburn-Castlereagh in the new councils but my approximation should be reasonably accurate based on the underlying demographics. The total nationalist vote was down by 4,514, a quite substantial decline from 2011. The SF vote was down by 3,040. Since the vote for independent nationalists (various dissident republican candidates and PBP) was up over 2,000, 2/3 of the SF decline was due to SF voters who defected from SF though it appears at least 1,000 SF voters stayed home. There was an even larger decline in the SDLP vote of 3,536.  Most of these voters stayed home, though perhaps a few hundred defected to the Green Party or NI21. There is no evidence that SDLP voters defected to Alliance in any significant number. The Alliance vote was down 1,689. Analysis of NI21 transfers indicates that approximately 1,200 of NI21 voters were Alliance voters in 2011. The remaining 500 vote decline in the Alliance vote was to the Green Party, mainly in the Ormiston DEA where the Green vote was up 500 from 2011. The total unionist vote was up 2,722 but since some NI21 voters were former UUP voters in 2011 the true unionist increase was probably 4,000. Despite the large increase of 4,000 unionist voters, the DUP vote declined 4,788, almost 20% of their 2011 total. The DUP voters defected to the PUP, TUV, UKIP and UUP. The UUP vote was up only 714 though if NI21 had not competed the UUP increase would have been over 1,500. The TUV nearly quadrupled their vote and the PUP vote was up 150%.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
Castle 43% 45%
Oldpark 45% 42%
Court 41% 47%
Black Mountain 52% NA
Collin 57% 21%
Balmoral 52% 41%
Botanic 24% 24%
Lisnasharragh 35% 45%
Titanic 31% 42%
Ormiston 34% 50%

 

In the Castle DEA in 2011 the nationalist turnout was 47% and the unionist turnout was 41%. In this election the unionist turnout went up 4% and the nationalist turnout declined 4%. That net shift of 8% translates into a 1,000 vote swing in favour of unionist candidates and this is the reason SF lost their 2nd seat. There was little change in turnout in Oldpark though the PUP won a seat at the expense of the DUP. In Court DEA there was large increase in unionist turnout resulting in a complete reversal of the usual nationalist unionist turnout differential. In 2011 the nationalist turnout was approximately 51% and the unionist turnout 41%. The nationalist turnout declined by 10% and the unionist turnout increased to 47%. If the nationalist turnout had remained at 51% there would have been an additional 1,000 nationalist votes, which would have resulted in the election of a 3rd nationalist candidate and the defeat of the TUV candidate. One may conclude that the nationalist nonvoters prefer to be represented by the TUV rather than the SDLP. In Black Mountain PBP won at the expense of SF. There were no surprises in Collin and Balmoral. In Botanic, turnout was only 24% and the Green Party lost to the UUP by 127 votes on the last count. There were almost 200 SDLP, Alliance and Socialist votes that did not transfer and those non transfers may have made the difference. In Titanic, the UUP won a seat from the DUP and SF held onto their seat despite less favourable demographics and a very poor nationalist turnout of only 31%. In Lisnasharragh the nationalist turnout was 10% less than the unionist turnout and the combined SF-SDLP vote was only 1 quota despite a potential electorate of 2.3 quotas. In Ormiston, the Green Party took a seat from Alliance.

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Westminster Assembly W Belfast S Belfast N Belfast E Belfast
SF 16942 4291 9691 1212
SDLP 2877 6332 3634 194
Nationalist 4683 340 1684 178
Alliance 559 6341 3322 6510
Green 0 1297 0 1606
NI21 389 1479 635 1049
UUP 699 3390 3888 5093
DUP 2215 7120 10693 10085
TUV 520 1029 1281 1901
PUP 1414 1275 2801 2320
UKIP 0 0 0 1162
Unionist 11 0 7 136
Conservative 0 199 0 162
       
Total 30309 33093 37637 31607
SF 55.90% 12.97% 25.75% 3.83%
SDLP 9.49% 19.13% 9.66% 0.61%
Nationalist 15.45% 1.03% 4.47% 0.56%
Alliance 1.84% 19.16% 8.83% 20.60%
Green 0.00% 3.92% 0.00% 5.08%
NI21 1.28% 4.47% 1.69% 3.32%
UUP 2.31% 10.25% 10.33% 16.11%
DUP 7.31% 21.52% 28.41% 31.91%
TUV 1.72% 3.11% 3.40% 6.01%
PUP 4.67% 3.85% 7.44% 7.34%
UKIP 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.68%
Unionist 0.04% 0.00% 0.02% 0.43%
Conservative 0.00% 0.60% 0.00% 0.51%

 

The combined unionist vote in West Belfast is 16%, above the quota of 14.3%. The SF vote of 55.9% is slightly less than 4 quotas but 4 would be elected with transfers. However, SF would lose a seat to the DUP. Expect Frank McCoubrey to be the DUP candidate as his vote total almost equaled the other 3 DUP candidates combined. He would appeal to loyalists and DUP voters. In South Belfast, the SDLP would lose a seat to the DUP. The combined unionist vote is 39.3% and the combined nationalist vote is 33.1%. With some NI21 transfers to the UUP that total would exceed 41% so it does appear that 3 unionists would be elected. If a Westminster election had been held the same day the DUP would have won. I expect that there will be a unionist unity candidate here in 2015 and if nationalist voter apathy continues this seat will be won by the unionist unity candidate. Mike Nesbitt is in a strong position to make a deal with the DUP as the DUP desperately want to win back Belfast East. Mike Nesbitt could potentially be the candidate. In Belfast East the combined PUP, TUV and UKIP vote is 17% so I expect the PUP or TUV would have won a seat at the expense of the DUP. In Westminster it appears that the DUP, at 31.9%, would easily defeat Alliance at 20.6%. This is misleading since there would be some nationalist tactical voting for Alliance and most of the 8.3% Green-NI21 vote would go to Alliance. The Alliance vote could be near 30%. I expect the DUP to take no chances and they will agree to an electoral pact with the UUP to guarantee that they will win. In North Belfast, the Alliance vote is approaching that of the SDLP though there was a 4.5% independent nationalist vote that would provide the SDLP with enough transfers to keep their seat. The DUP would lose their 3rd seat to either the PUP or UUP. The combined PUP-TUV vote of 10.8% is an underestimate as these parties did not compete in Glengormley DEA. There will be no change in Westminster as the TUV and PUP will not stand.

For all of Northern Ireland, here is the approximate turnout by constituency.

Turnout Constituency Nationalist Unionist
Belfast East 33% 45%
Belfast North 46% 50%
Belfast South 36% 37%
Belfast West 44% 41%
East Antrim 32% 43%
East Londonderry 38% 45%
Fermanagh and South Tyrone 52% 63%
Foyle 50% 43%
Lagan Valley 26% 47%
Mid Ulster 52% 57%
Newry and Armagh 50% 54%
North Antrim 42% 51%
North Down 20% 39%
South Antrim 36% 42%
South Down 45% 45%
Strangford 36% 40%
Upper Bann 39% 54%
West Tyrone 55% 61%

 

Unionist turnout is 1% to 2% higher per constituency than these numbers since 9,000 TUV, UKIP and PUP voters did not vote in the council election. Nationalist turnout would be 1% to 3% less since the nationalist electorate has increased by over 20,000 since 2011. After taking that into account, there are 14 constituencies where nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout (>5% difference). There are 3 constituencies where turnout is equal-South Down, South Belfast and West Belfast. Only Foyle has a nationalist turnout that is clearly higher than unionist turnout.

Faha strikes again! Further analysis of the new councils


This is my more detailed analysis of the Causeway Coast and Glens, Mid and East Antrim, Antrim-Newtownabbey and Lisburn-Castlereagh council election. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Causeway
Coast
Glens 2014
Causeway
Coast
Glens 2011
Change
       
SF 9313 10110 -797
SDLP 5911 6005 -94
Nationalist 1658 1757 -99
Alliance 1822 1963 -141
Green 0 0 0
NI21 378 0 378
UUP 7978 7688 290
DUP 11459 16312 -4853
TUV 4840 2027 2813
PUP 777 0 777
UKIP 516 91 425
Unionist 773 3738 -2965
Conservative 129 0 129
       
Total 45554 49691 -4137

 

Overall, there was a 4,137 decline in the total vote between 2011 and 2014. Almost 1,000 of that decline was in the nationalist vote and over 3,300 of that decline was in the unionist vote.  This is one of the few councils where the decline in the unionist vote was higher than the decline of the nationalist vote. The decline in the nationalist vote was almost entirely due to the 797 fewer votes that Sinn Fein received in 2014. Approximately 300 votes of that SF decline was due to the fact that SF did not have a candidate in the Causeway DEA. The other 500 vote decline was entirely in the 2 Limavady DEA’s. This was probably due to local factors. Limavady council was originally supposed to be part of the Derry council. The DUP decided, with SF cooperation, to transfer Limavady to this unionist majority council instead. Most likely, the 500 vote SF decline is due to voters who stayed home because they were upset with the SF-DUP decision to transfer Limavady to unionist control. However, the bigger story here is the massive collapse in the DUP vote. The DUP lost 30% of their 2011 vote. Most of these voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP though some stayed home. There was a large decline in the independent unionist vote but half of that decline was due to voters who voted for David McClarty in 2011.

In Mid and East Antrim the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Mid & East
Antrim 2014
Mid & East
Antrim 2011
Change
       
SF 3118 2769 349
SDLP 1864 2712 -848
Nationalist 188 246 -58
Alliance 4277 5102 -825
Green 0 404 -404
NI21 783 0 783
UUP 7665 7876 -211
DUP 12520 19729 -7209
TUV 6266 4043 2223
PUP 1352 146 1206
UKIP 749 0 749
Unionist 2747 3954 -1207
Conservative 107 0 107
       
Total 41636 46981 -5345

 

Overall, there was a 5,345 vote decline between 2011 and 2014. The decline in the unionist vote was much larger than the decline in the nationalist vote. The decline in the total vote is proportional to the underlying unionist and nationalist electorate as the nationalist electorate is only 20% in this council. The SF vote was up but only because the SDLP did not have a candidate in Bannside so SDLP voters voted SF or Alliance in 2014. The SDLP appear to have partly abandoned competing in this council as they competed in only 3 of the 7 DEA’s whereas SF competed in 5 of the DEA’s. The Alliance Green vote was also down significantly. Some of these voters may have voted NI21 but many stayed home. As in Causeway Coast and Glens the big story here is the massive decline in the DUP vote, down 37% from 2011. Half of the decline in the 2011 DUP vote was due to voters who defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP but the other half stayed home.

In Antrim-Newtownabbey the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Antrim
Newtownabbey 2014
Antrim
Newtownabbey 2011
Change
       
SF 5434 5578 -144
SDLP 3746 4273 -527
Nationalist 0 250 -250
Alliance 5535 6415 -880
Green 0 0 0
NI21 1357 0 1357
UUP 8921 8798 123
DUP 14082 17157 -3075
TUV 2479 363 2116
PUP 1285 615 670
UKIP 0 0 0
Unionist 143 1052 -909
Conservative 0 0 0
       
Total 42982 44501 -1519

 

Overall, there was a 1,519 vote decline between the 2011 and 2014 elections. The majority of that decline (921) was a decline in votes for nationalist candidates. These nationalist voters stayed home. The Alliance vote was also down by 880 but those were voters who defected to NI21. The DUP vote was down by 3,075 and these were voters who defected to the TUV and PUP. While it appears the overall unionist vote was down, in reality it was unchanged from 2011. There were no TUV and PUP candidates in the Dunsilly, Airport and Glengormley DEA’s. The unionist vote in the Euro election was 9,000 votes higher for all of Northern Ireland and this is one council where many of those extra votes were located. The DUP decline here would have been much worse if the TUV, PUP and UKIP had competed in these 3 DEA’s.

In Lisburn-Castlereagh the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Lisburn
Castlereagh 2014
Lisburn
Castlereagh 2011
Change
       
SF 2132 2435 -303
SDLP 3658 4400 -742
Nationalist 33 83 -50
Alliance 5492 7758 -2266
Green 699 967 -268
NI21 3173 0 3173
UUP 7311 8266 -955
DUP 18520 22971 -4451
TUV 2720 289 2431
PUP 695 0 695
UKIP 824 0 824
Unionist 136 450 -314
Conservative 376 337 39
       
Total 45769 47956 -2187

 

It was difficult to determine the change in party vote in Dunmurry Cross, Castlereagh West and Castlereagh East since these DEA’s were divided between Belfast and Lisburn-Castlereagh in the new councils but my approximation should be reasonably accurate based on the underlying demographics. Half the overall vote decline between 2011 and 2014 was due to nationalist voters who stayed home. There was a large decline of 2,534 in the Alliance-Green vote. Probably half of those voters defected to NI21 and the other half stayed home. There was a large 20% decline of 4,451 in the DUP vote. Most of these voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP. The DUP vote decline would have been greater but there was no competition from the TUV, PUP or UKIP in Killultagh DEA.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
     
Benbradagh 43% 50%
Limavady 35% 54%
Bann 47% 60%
Coleraine 28% 40%
Causeway 27% 47%
Ballymoney 40% 48%
The Glens 55% 38%
Ballymena 26% 43%
Bannside 43% 56%
Braid 50% 48%
Carrick Castle 18% 42%
Coast Road 38% 46%
Knockagh 20% 50%
Larne Lough 19% 40%
Airport 48% 48%
Antrim 25% 40%
Ballyclare 20% 41%
Dunsilly 49% 50%
Glengormley Urban 39% 44%
Macedon 29% 44%
3MileWater 18% 48%
Castlereagh East 25% 45%
Castlereagh South 47% 43%
Downshire East 20% 53%
Downshire West 23% 42%
Killultagh 42% 47%
Lisburn North 33% 45%
Lisburn South 20% 43%

 

In Causeway Coast and Glens nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in all DEA’s except the Glens where it is 55%. The low turnout resulted in the loss of a SF councilor in Bann DEA as well as one in Ballymoney DEA. Even though there are 2.6 nationalist quotas in Ballymoney DEA only 1 nationalist councilor was elected. In Mid and East Antrim, only in the Braid DEA does nationalist turnout equal unionist turnout. In all other DEA’s the nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout. In Antrim-Newtownabbey nationalist turnout equals unionist turnout in the Airport and Dunsilly DEA’s but in all other DEA’s it is much lower. In the Antrim DEA it was only 25% and SF lost their seat here in a DEA with 2.6 nationalist quotas. In Macedon DEA, with 1.6 nationalist quotas in the electorate, neither SF nor the SDLP elected a councilor. In Lisburn-Castlereagh nationalist turnout exceeded unionist turnout in Castlereagh South but was much lower than unionist turnout in 5 DEA’s. In Castlereagh South it appears that 2/3 of the Alliance NI21 vote came from the Catholic electorate. Although the nationalist turnout in Killultagh was only 5% lower than unionist turnout, that 5% translated into 250 fewer votes which resulted in the SF candidate losing a seat.

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Westminster Assembly East Derry North Antrim E Antrim S Antrim Lagan Valley
           
SF 6098 5322 1788 3801 1037
SDLP 4885 2812 1175 3280 1605
Nationalist 252 1176 670 0 33
Alliance 1482 1525 3904 2994 2927
Green 0 0 0 0 257
NI21 385 355 809 967 2629
UUP 5627 6731 6190 6665 6760
DUP 8554 13385 7638 8592 14505
TUV 2867 7015 2205 1546 1846
PUP 810 183 1481 470 203
UKIP 438 153 749 0 824
Unionist 602 1546 1529 143 74
Conservative 0 129 107 0 376
           
Total 31998 40331 28246 28458 33077
           
SF 19.06% 13.19% 6.33% 13.36% 3.13%
SDLP 15.27% 6.97% 4.16% 11.53% 4.85%
Nationalist 0.79% 2.91% 2.37% 0.00% 0.10%
Alliance 4.63% 3.78% 13.82% 10.52% 8.85%
Green 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.78%
NI21 1.20% 0.88% 2.86% 3.40% 7.95%
UUP 17.59% 16.69% 21.91% 23.42% 20.44%
DUP 26.73% 33.19% 27.04% 30.19% 43.85%
TUV 8.96% 17.39% 7.81% 5.43% 5.58%
PUP 2.53% 0.45% 5.24% 1.65% 0.61%
UKIP 1.37% 0.38% 2.65% 0.00% 2.49%
Unionist 1.88% 3.83% 5.41% 0.50% 0.22%
Conservative 0.00% 0.32% 0.38% 0.00% 1.14%

 

In East Derry there would be no change for Westminster but the TUV would win an Assembly seat (probably Douglas Boyd) on PUP and UKIP transfers. In North Antrim there would be no change in Westminster but Jim Allister would easily be elected to the Assembly. Depending on transfers and DUP balancing, there could be a 2nd TUV seat here. The SDLP would be far short of a seat with only half a quota 1st preference.  In East Antrim, there would be no change in Westminster though the UUP is only 5% behind the DUP and depending on whom TUV, PUP, and UKIP voters support the UUP could make this seat competitive. For Assembly, the TUV should win a seat since the combined TUV, PUP, and UKIP vote is over a quota. This gain would come at the expense of SF. There are 5 unionist quotas and Alliance are just short of a quota but would pick up enough NI21 votes and SDLP transfers to keep their seat. SF, at 6.3%, would be far short of a quota even if most of the 6.5% SDLP-independent nationalist vote transfers to SF (which did not occur in 2011). In South Antrim, there probably would be no change for Westminster. However, the DUP council vote overestimates their true strength since the TUV, PUP and UKIP did not compete in 3 DEA’s. It is possible that there would be a TUV seat in the Assembly election since the true TUV vote would be much higher than 5.4% as they did not compete in 3 if the DEA’s. There is still only 1 nationalist seat here. In Lagan Valley, there would be no change in Westminster. For the Assembly, the TUV would be competing with the UUP for the 5th unionist seat. The nationalist vote is only half a quota despite and electorate of 1.4 quotas.

Flegs, Semantics and Political Culpability


Having let Faha loose with this blog over the last few weeks and, may I say, he has done a fine job focussing on exactly the principles that I intended when I started this blog, I felt I should write a piece myself as we approach the traditional season of peace and goodwill that prevails hereabouts during the long hot summer months.

Firstly Flegs.

Apparently they (and I’m referring to loyalists here) are ordering extra large ones this year. (Mine is bigger than yours seems to be the message). Of course we all know that that the flag waving competition is simply about marking territory except that it is no longer a competition if only one team is on the pitch. As any general will tell you it is not a great strategy fighting an already lost battle on a shrinking field.

The interesting change this year revolves around the PSNI deciding to designate the erection of further union flags in the upper Union Flag in tattersOrmeau rd as a breach of the peace”. Of course this is a result of demographic change. What was previously an overwhelmingly unionist area, eh, isn’t anymore. In fact it’s now a majority nationalist area (67%). Likewise, we have the same story in Finaghy. I have noted with interest the necessity in unionist areas to write the words “Ivory Coast” across their national flag lest it be confused with that other green white and orange tricolour. So much for geography teachers and the respect for “others” I thought everyone voted for in the good friday agreement. Of course the devil will be in the detail. Enforcement. The PSNI blinked the last time this chestnut came up. They will be tested again this time.

Semantics

Language, the use and subtleties of it, the application and means to which it is put. As George Orwell says: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as if it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink”  I honestly believe there is a doctoral thesis waiting to be written on the use/misuse of language in these parts. I need hardly recite the litany of double names for pretty much everything. In fact I’m not going to because it would be pointless. My point, such as it is, is that we are never going to agree on a commonality of language and terms. We should simply accept that we each have our own interpretations. Lets just leave it at that?

Political Culpability

Ok,  two names, this week anyway. Nelson and Peter. I’m not even going to attempt to critique the Minister for “keeping Deputy Dodds North Belfast Seat” antics. It’s beyond satire. Peter Robinson is a different matter. He is supposed to be the First Minister. That means that he acts in the interests of ALL the population of these six counties. Not the DUP electorate, not the Unionist electorate, all of us.

He is not speaking for me for a start. We have had to listen to his excuses for the prehistoric fundamentalist preacher who decided Moslems were the source of all evil, then a defence of the ladies in deckchairs outside the house in East Belfast with their blatantly racist bedsheets. The irony of them claiming to complain about unfair housing allocation completely lost on pretty much everyone.

Unionism is an ideology built upon the twin tenets of superiority over the natives and loyalty to a ruling power. It is a contradictory, colonialist mentality. That is why the recent comments of Peter Robinson are so ridiculous. He is, when presented with an opportunity for leadership, as sure footed as a mountain Sloth.

 

 

 

Down and Armagh- Fahas post election view


This is my more detailed analysis of the Armagh and Down councils of Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon, Newry-Mourne-Down and North Down-Ards. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Armagh
Banbridge
Craigavon 2014
Armagh
Banbridge
Craigavon 2011
Change
       
SF 13591 17234 -3643
SDLP 10083 11614 -1531
Nationalist 490 1252 -762
Alliance 2440 1929 511
Green 0 0 0
NI21 884 0 884
UUP 18882 19900 -1018
DUP 17734 21074 -3340
TUV 1852 1565 287
PUP 1274 0 1274
UKIP 1322 122 1200
Unionist 2100 1136 964
Conservative 0 0 0
Independent
(Alliance-Green)
     
       
Total 70652 75826 -5174

 

Overall, there was a 5,174 decline in the total vote between 2011 and 2014. The decline in the nationalist vote was 5,936 and the decline in the unionist vote was 633.  There probably was no actual decline in the unionist vote and turnout since that 633 vote decline was due to unionist voters who voted NI21. The Alliance vote was up mainly because they competed in 2 additional DEA’s. The decline in the SF vote was over twice that of the SDLP. Indeed, 20% of all nationalist voters who voted in 2011 stayed home in 2014. The decline in the DUP vote was almost as large as that for SF. The DUP voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP and independent unionists. Half the decline in the UUP vote was probably votes lost to NI21. The only expected change (compared to the results expected from the 2011 vote) was the loss of a SF seat in Craigavon to the DUP and in the Portadown DEA where the UUP and UKIP each picked up additional seats at the expense of the DUP.

In Newry-Mourne-Down the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

 

  Newry Mourne
Down 2014
Newry Mourne
Down 2011
Change
       
SF 22613 24083 -1470
SDLP 18568 20309 -1741
Nationalist 2240 3335 -1095
Alliance 1460 1330 130
Green 839 1417 -578
NI21 526 0 526
UUP 7314 7500 -186
DUP 4635 5454 -819
TUV 433 408 25
PUP 0 0 0
UKIP 2371 1910 461
Unionist 0 0 0
Conservative 0 0 0
Independent
(Alliance-Green)
     
       
Total 60999 65746 -4747

 

Overall, there was a 4,747 vote decline between 2011 and 2014. There was a 4,306 decline in the nationalist vote and only a 519 decline in the unionist vote. The actual decline in the unionist vote and turnout was actually minimal since some of those voters voted for NI21. The Green candidate in Downpatrick in 2011 stood as an independent in 2014 but I included his vote as Green.

For North Down-Ards the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  North Down Ards
2014
North Down Ards
2011
Change
       
SF 388 0 388
SDLP 1959 1983 -24
Nationalist 0 0 0
Alliance 6243 9073 -2830
Green 2023 2025 -2
NI21 1441 0 1441
UUP 6797 7809 -1012
DUP 14244 20763 -6519
TUV 2252 830 1422
PUP 0 0 0
UKIP 1180 427 753
Unionist 3548 4453 -905
Conservative 1554 856 698
Independent
(Alliance-Green)
0 1458 -1458
       
Total 41629 49677 -8048

 

There was a large decline in turnout of 8,048 voters between 2011 and 2014. Most of that decline was due to the decline in the DUP vote. I estimate that 2/3 of the DUP vote decline was due to voters who stayed home and the other 1/3 defected to the TUV and UKIP. The decline in the UUP vote was probably due to voters who voted for NI21. There also was a large decline in the Alliance vote. Brian Wilson (formerly Green/Alliance) did not stand in 2014 and most of his vote probably went to Green and Alliance candidates. Overall, the nonsectarian vote decline from 2011 accounts for half of the 8,048 vote decline.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census. In 4 of North Down-Ards DEA’s it is difficult to estimate the turnout of the Catholic population due to the absence of nationalist candidates. I have used 2011 transfer data to provide estimates. My estimates of Catholic turnout may be high in all DEA’s except Ards Peninsula. For example in the Bangor Central DEA the combined Alliance-Green-NI21 vote was 1509. I assumed that 500 (33%) was from the Catholic electorate even though the Catholic electorate is only 11% in this DEA. The turnout calculation was 20%. It could be as low as 15%. In Holywood and Bangor West DEA’s, it appears that 2/3 of Catholics do not vote for nationalist parties and this would probably be true in the other DEA’s if the SDLP competed.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
     
Armagh 43% 53%
Banbridge 39% 51%
Craigavon 42% 64%
Cusher 51% 57%
Lagan River 29% 53%
Lurgan 38% 51%
Portadown 36% 50%
Crotlieve 51% 44%
Downpatrick 48% 33%
Newry 43% 20%
Rowallane 40% 45%
Slieve Croob 45% 46%
Slieve Gullion 61% 57%
The Mournes 46% 56%
Ards Peninsula 42% 33%
Bangor Central 20% 36%
Bangor East
and Donaghadee
18% 41%
Bangor West 23% 38%
Comber 20% 44%
Holywood and
Clandeboye
28% 42%
Newtownards 18% 42%

 

The Protestant electorate has not changed since 2011 so the unionist turnout figures should be very accurate though they underestimate unionist turnout in some DEA’s where the TUV or UKIP did not compete since some of those voters voted in the Euro election but not the council election. The nationalist turnout figures probably overestimate the nationalist turnout by 1% to 3% because they do not account for the increase in the nationalist electorate since 2011, which would be over 20,000 for all of Northern Ireland.

Of the 7 DEA’s in Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in all DEA’s ranging from 6% less in Cusher to 24% less in Lagan River. In the Craigavon DEA it was 22% less. The Craigavon DEA has a nationalist electorate of 56% and a unionist electorate of 44% yet the unionist vote exceeded the nationalist vote and 3 unionists were elected and only 2 nationalists. In my analysis earlier this year of this new council I estimated it would have a nationalist majority in 40 years. Based on the 2014 turnout, I would postpone that date to the next century.

In the Newry-Mourne-Down council the picture is more mixed, with nationalist turnout higher in 4 DEA’s and lower in 2. In the Downpatrick and Newry DEA’s it appears that the unionist electorate has declined below that critical mass required to maintain party structure and turnout.

In North Down-Ards unionist turnout is down sharply from 2011. Nationalist turnout is probably down also but is difficult to quantify.

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Westminster
Assembly
Newry Armagh Upper Bann S Down Strangford North Down
           
SF 17409 8800 10842 802 0
SDLP 9745 5168 12199 2378 572
Nationalist 1086 490 1005 112 0
Alliance 161 1855 1066 2909 3810
Green 0 0 839 0 2023
NI21 9 632 333 774 907
UUP 8071 9947 4808 5437 4290
DUP 4126 11426 2909 10436 7730
TUV 72 1328 0 1489 1153
PUP 54 1220 0 0 0
UKIP 322 1000 2371 427 753
Unionist 1927 71 0 2054 2839
Conservative 0 0 0 690 864
           
Total 42981 41937 36372 27507 24941
           
SF 40.50% 20.98% 29.81% 2.92% 0.00%
SDLP 22.67% 12.32% 33.54% 8.64% 2.29%
Nationalist 2.53% 1.17% 2.76% 0.41% 0.00%
Alliance 0.38% 4.42% 2.93% 10.58% 15.28%
Green 0.00% 0.00% 2.31% 0.00% 8.11%
NI21 0.02% 1.51% 0.92% 2.81% 3.64%
UUP 18.78% 23.72% 13.22% 19.77% 17.20%
DUP 9.60% 27.25% 8.00% 37.94% 30.99%
TUV 0.17% 3.17% 0.00% 5.41% 4.62%
PUP 0.13% 2.91% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
UKIP 0.75% 2.39% 6.52% 1.55% 3.02%
Unionist 4.48% 0.17% 0.00% 7.47% 11.38%
Conservative 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.51% 3.46%

 

In Newry&Armagh there would be no change in either the Assembly or Westminster election. In Upper Bann, the SDLP would retain their Assembly seat on nationalist, Alliance and NI21 transfers. There probably would still be 2 DUP and 2 UUP as the combined TUV, UKIP, and PUP vote is only 8.5%. Since these parties did not compete in Banbridge DEA the true total may be 10% but this would not be enough to threaten the 2nd UUP seat. There would be no change for Westminster. In South Down UKIP could take an Assembly seat from the DUP. UKIP was at 6.5% and the DUP at 8%. However, UKIP did not compete in all the DEA’s nor did the TUV. It is possible that the combined UKIP-TUV vote actually exceeded the DUP vote in the Euro election. Expect Henry Reilly to be a serious contender in the 2016 Stormont election. In Strangford, there would be no nationalist seat as the combined nationalist vote is 2% less than a quota. Alliance should be elected on NI21 and independent unionist transfers. It appears there would be 2 UUP and 3 DUP. The combined UKIP –TUV vote is only half a quota but could threaten the 2nd UUP seat depending on who the independent unionists (7.5%) vote for in an Assembly election. North Down would probably be unchanged with the Green party winning an Assembly seat on SDLP, NI21 and other transfers.

Fahas Western View


This is my more detailed analysis of the western councils of Derry Strabane, Fermanagh Omagh and Mid Ulster. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

 

  Derry Strabane 2014 Derry Strabane 2011 Change
       
SF 19384 20845 -1461
SDLP 13792 17410 -3618
Nationalist 5909 5832 77
Alliance 853 359 494
Green 0 0 0
NI21 0 0 0
UUP 4065 4001 64
DUP 8273 10120 -1847
TUV 521 0 521
PUP 274 204 70
UKIP 694 0 694
Unionist 0 0 0
Conservative 0 0 0
       
Total 53765 58771 -5006

 

There was a large decline in the SDLP vote (mainly in Derry) and a lesser decline in the SF vote. The DUP vote was also down, more so than the SF vote. Overall, there was a 5,000 vote decline in the nationalist vote, a 500 vote decline in the unionist vote and a 494 vote increase in Alliance vote. The increased Alliance vote is due to competing in more DEA’s. Some unionist voters in the Euro election (TUV, PUP and UKIP) did not vote in the council election due to their party not standing in some DEA’s and some unionist votes and nationalist votes were lost to Alliance. The unionist vote may have been down minimally when taking into account these factors. The biggest surprise here was the collapse of the SDLP vote. Since the SF vote also declined and the independent nationalist vote barely increased the SDLP and SF voters stayed home. Dissident republicans and other independent nationalists benefited with an IRSP seat in Sperrin and 3 independents in Derry.

In Fermanagh Omagh the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

 

  Fermanagh Omagh 2014 Fermanagh Omagh 2011 Change
       
SF 19486 21629 -2143
SDLP 7164 6810 354
Nationalist 2214 4145 -1931
Alliance 819 443 376
Green 71 63 8
NI21 0 0 0
UUP 9612 10558 -946
DUP 7075 8956 -1881
TUV 1091 309 782
PUP 0 0 0
UKIP 296 0 296
Unionist 0 0 0
Conservative 0 0 0
       
Total 47828 52913 -5085

 

There was a 3720 vote decline in the nationalist vote and a 1749 decline in the unionist vote. The SDLP vote increased and there was a large decline in the SF and independent nationalist vote. The improved SDLP vote led to additional councilors in Erne East and Omagh Town. The decline in nationalist and unionist turnout was proportional to their share of the electorate though the true unionist decline would have been less since some Euro unionist voters did not vote in the council election.

In Mid Ulster the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Mid Ulster 2014 Mid Ulster 2011 Change
       
SF 22287 24167 -1880
SDLP 7600 9381 -1781
Nationalist 2571 2889 -318
Alliance 450 298 152
Green 0 0 0
NI21 0 0 0
UUP 9574 9145 429
DUP 9723 11361 -1638
TUV 2370 2638 -268
PUP 0 0 0
UKIP 195 0 195
Unionist 118 0 118
Conservative 0 0 0
       
Total 54888 59879 -4991

 

The nationalist vote declined 3,979 and the unionist vote declined 1164. The true unionist decline would have been less. The main surprises were the loss of a SF seat to the SDLP in Dungannon and the loss of an expected SDLP seat in Moyola to the UUP that was due to the decline in nationalist turnout.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census. For example, Erne North had a Catholic electorate of 5,577, a Protestant electorate of 5,290 and Other/None of 257 and I estimated the overall nationalist electorate at ~5,700 and the unionist electorate ~5,400. The SF-SDLP vote was 2,589 for a turnout of 45%. The unionist party vote was 3,701 for a turnout of 69%. The Protestant electorate has not changed since 2011 so the unionist turnout figures should be very accurate though they underestimate unionist turnout in some DEA’s where the TUV or UKIP did not compete since some of those voters voted in the Euro election but not the council election. The nationalist turnout figures probably overestimate the nationalist turnout by 1% to 3% because they do not account for the increase in the nationalist electorate since 2011, which would be over 20,000 for all of Northern Ireland.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
     
Erne East 6 67% 70%
Erne West 5 66% 66%
Erne North 5 45% 69%
Enniskillen 6 42% 49%
Omagh 6 37% 50%
Mid Tyrone 6 67% 67%
West Tyrone 6 56% 68%
Clogher Valley 6 55% 71%
Dungannon 6 39% 57%
Torrent 6 48% 63%
Cookstown 7 49% 59%
Magherafelt 5 48% 54%
Moyola 5 59% 60%
Carntogher 5 63% 54%
Derg 5 62% 65%
Sperrin 7 52% 54%
Faughan 5 41% 43%
Waterside 7 43% 48%
Foyleside 5 47% NA
Ballyarnett 6 49% NA
The Moor 5 57% NA

 

Carntogher DEA is the only DEA in which nationalist turnout was higher than unionist turnout. There are 7 DEA’s where nationalist turnout is similar to unionist turnout. In half the DEA’s nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout. Indeed, even though the Catholic electorate in the Erne North, Enniskillen and Clogher Valley DEA’s exceeds the Protestant electorate, the unionist vote was higher than the nationalist vote in all 3 of those DEA’s!

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Westminster Assembly Foyle West Tyrone FST Mid Ulster
         
SF 12035 16886 14074 18267
SDLP 11391 6111 5488 5772
Nationalist 4244 1818 3521 1231
Alliance 853 671 401 117
Green 0 198 71 0
NI21 0 0 0 0
UUP 2056 5239 10560 5932
DUP 4512 6993 7763 5761
TUV 0 521 1587 1884
PUP 274 0 0 0
UKIP 696 0 296 195
Unionist 0 0 0 0
Conservative 0 0 0 0
         
Total 36061 38437 43761 39159
         
SF 33.37% 43.93% 32.16% 46.65%
SDLP 31.59% 15.90% 12.54% 14.74%
Nationalist 11.77% 4.73% 8.05% 3.14%
Alliance 2.37% 1.75% 0.92% 0.30%
Green 0.00% 0.52% 0.16% 0.00%
NI21 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
UUP 5.70% 13.63% 24.13% 15.15%
DUP 12.51% 18.19% 17.74% 14.71%
TUV 0.00% 1.36% 3.63% 4.81%
PUP 0.76% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
UKIP 1.93% 0.00% 0.68% 0.50%
Unionist 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Conservative 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%

 

For Stormont there would be no change in Mid Ulster and West Tyrone. It would be 3 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 UUP and 1 DUP in both constituencies. For Westminster, there would also be no change in Mid Ulster and West Tyrone.  In Foyle, there would be no change with 3 SDLP, 2 SF and 1 DUP.  Although the SF  vote exceeds the SDLP in the 2011 election 80% of the unionist surplus transferred to the SDLP as well as much of the Alliance vote. As there was 7% unionist surplus 5.5% of that, along with 1.5% of the Alliance vote would bring the SDLP total up to 38.5%, far exceeding the SF percentage. Westminster could be a different outcome. The SF vote is ~650 higher than the SDLP vote. However, in the 2010 election, approximately 20% of the unionist vote voted tactically for the SDLP, which would have been 1,500 votes in this election. The big unknown would be how the 4,244 independent nationalist would vote. Of course, many of the dissident republican voters may not vote in a Westminster election so it is difficult to predict the outcome in 2015.

In Fermanagh South Tyrone the UUP vote exceeded the DUP vote by over 6% so it appears that the UUP would pick up an Assembly seat from the DUP. The SDLP would also pick up a seat from SF. At 12.54% they would pick up enough of the unionist surplus and Alliance transfers to reach a quota and would receive some of the 8% independent nationalist transfers. It appears that SF would lose a Westminster seat to a unionist unity candidate. There are several reasons for this. The Dungannon DEA does not match the Westminster boundaries. A section of Killyman ward with 400 to 500 unionists is actually in the Craigavon council and another section with 400 to 500 nationalist votes is actually in Mid Ulster. So the unionist vote would be 1% higher and the nationalist vote 1% lower based on the actual Westminster boundaries. Another reason is that EU nationals are not permitted to vote in Westminster elections. There were 3,000 EU nationals on the electoral register for the council elections and if 800 of these voted there would be another 1% shift in the nationalist unionist balance. The last reason is that the actual unionist vote total is higher because some TUV and UKIP voters that voted in the Euro election did not vote in the council election due to the lack of candidates. There were no such candidates in Clogher Valley and Erne West. I estimate and additional 400+ unionist votes. So with the Westminster electorate the combined nationalist vote would be at most 51% and the unionist vote would be at least 48%. The SDLP vote was 7.6% in 2010 and would need to collapse to less than 3% for SF to win. This is unlikely to occur. Unless there is an end to nationalist apathy a unionist unity candidate will win Westminster in 2015.

So…Racism


Originally posted on Keeping An Eye On the Czar of Russia:

We used to be far too busy with Sectarianism (a specifically local problem) to worry about one of the great global problems like Racism.
As “Lord” Brookeborough, one of the founding fathers of the Norn Iron statelet put it (when referring to Catholics) “I wouldnt have one about the place”.
We have a settlement of sorts to our Conflict which forces unionism to accept that 45 per cent of the population are equally entitled to be about the place.
And there is a strong strand of unionism which is hostile to it, even if they accept it …just to stay in some kinda power.
Lets be frank here.
Imperialism is about Supremacy. The “right” often attributed to GOD to ownership of land and the subjugation of people.
The Israelis claim GOD on their side.
The Americans talked of their Manifest Destiny as they moved west.
The Nazis had the “natural”…

View original 1,768 more words

The Post Mortem- by Faha


Now that the election is over, it is time for the post-election analysis to begin. Much of the mainstream media and even some of the political parties have concentrated on comparing the 2014 Euro election with the 2009 election. I believe a more valid comparison would be to compare the 2014 party vote totals in the 2014 Euro election with the 2011 Assembly party vote totals. The 2014 council elections can also be easily compared with the 2011 council elections. These were the results for the district council elections in 2011 and 2014.

2014 Council Total 2011 Change    
           
SF 151258 163712 -12454 258624 -26767
SDLP 85603 99325 -13722    
Nationalist 21763 22354 -591    
Alliance 41803 48859 -7056 48157 -7056
Green 6354 6317 37    
NI21 11495 0 11495    
UUP 101375 100643 732   1056
DUP 144886 179436 -34550 309625 -10439
TUV 28161 13079 15082    
PUP 12553 3858 8695    
UKIP 9313 2550 6763    
Unionist 10810 19177 -8367    
Conservative 2527 1321 1206    
           
Total 627901 660631 -32730    

 

SF 24.09% 24.78% -0.69% 41.19% Nationalist -2.01%
SDLP 13.63% 15.03% -1.40%      
Nationalist 3.47% 3.38% 0.08%      
Alliance 6.66% 7.40% -0.74% 7.67% Alliance-Green -0.68%
Green 1.01% 0.96% 0.06%      
NI21 1.83% 0.00% 1.83% 51.14% Unionist-NI21 2.69%
UUP 16.15% 15.23% 0.91% 49.31% Unionist 0.86%
DUP 23.07% 27.16% -4.09%      
TUV 4.48% 1.98% 2.51%      
PUP 2.00% 0.58% 1.42%      
UKIP 1.48% 0.39% 1.10%      
Unionist 1.72% 2.90% -1.18%      
Conservative 0.40% 0.20% 0.20%      

 

These were the results for the 2014 Euro elections and comparing those results with the 2011 Assembly elections.

  Euro 2014 Assembly 2011 Change    
           
SF 159813 178224 -18411 241407 -44479
SDLP 81594 94286 -12692    
Nationalist 0 13376 -13376    
Alliance 44432 50875 -6443 55030 -1876
Green 10598 6031 4567    
NI21 10553 0 10553   10744
UUP 83438 87531 -4093   191
DUP 131163 198436 -67273 319135  
TUV 75806 16480 59326    
PUP 0 1493 -1493    
UKIP 24584 4152 20432    
Unionist 0 10852 -10852    
Conservative 4144 0 4144    
           
Total 626125 661736 -35611    

 

 

SF 25.52% 26.93% -1.41% 38.56% Nationalist -4.65%
SDLP 13.03% 14.25% -1.22%      
Nationalist 0.00% 2.02% -2.02%      
Alliance 7.10% 7.69% -0.59% 8.79% Alliance-Green 0.19%
Green 1.69% 0.91% 0.78%      
NI21 1.69% 0.00% 1.69% 52.66% Unionist-NI21 4.46%
UUP 13.33% 13.23% 0.10% 50.97% Unionist 2.77%
DUP 20.95% 29.99% -9.04%      
TUV 12.11% 2.49% 9.62%      
PUP 0.00% 0.23% -0.23%      
UKIP 3.93% 0.63% 3.30%      
Unionist 0.00% 1.64% -1.64%      
Conservative 0.66% 0.00% 0.66%      

 

The council elections saw a decline in turnout of 32,730. This was almost entirely due to nationalist voters staying home. The decline in the nationalist vote was 27,767. The decline in the Alliance-Green vote was 7,056. The unionist vote is more difficult to determine due to the presence of NI21. NI21 was a unionist party until 1 day before the election when it designated as unaligned. If it is not considered unionist then the unionist vote declined 10,439. If it is considered unionist then the unionist vote increased 1,056. Transfers in the council and Euro elections indicated that only half of the NI21 vote originated from unionist voters (usually UUP). I estimate that the unionist vote was down 5,000 and the Alliance Green vote was down 1,000 if NI21 did not compete in this election. Most of the decline of 32,730 between the 2011 and 2014 council elections was due to the 27,767 decrease in nationalist votes. The nationalist decline was slightly higher for SF than the SDLP but the percentage decline was greater for the SDLP. Since the independent nationalist vote was also down there is no evidence that the decline in SF and SDLP votes is due to defection to independent nationalists. The voters just stayed home. The Green vote was unchanged but the Alliance vote was down 7,000. Most of the decline in the Alliance vote is due to voters who defected to NI21 though a few may have defected to the UUP. In the unionist electorate there was a large decline in the DUP vote of 34,550, almost 20% of their 2011 vote. Almost that entire vote defected to the TUV, PUP, and UKIP. However, some DUP voters also defected to the UUP. This is difficult to discern because the UUP vote was only up 732. However, the UUP lost some votes to NI21 and gained an equal number from the DUP and ended up essentially unchanged. If NI21 had not competed the UUP vote would have been up approximately 6,000.

The Euro election results are more enlightening and present a more accurate picture of political party strength than the council elections. This is because in the council elections the smaller parties such as Alliance, Green, TUV, UKIP, and PUP do not compete in many DEA’s so their voters cannot vote for them in a council election. Other than the PUP, this was not an issue in the Euro election. Compared to the 2011 Assembly vote the Euro vote was down 35,611. The nationalist vote was down 44,479, much more than in the council elections. The Alliance-Green vote was down 1,876 and the unionist vote was up 191. The actual unionist vote was up ~ 5,000 since half the NI21 vote originated from unionist parties and the Alliance-Green vote would also have been up due to the same reasons. You will notice some unusual anomalies when comparing the council vote and the Euro vote which I will provide an explanation for. The unionist vote in the Euro election was 319,135 compared to 309,625 in the council election, which was 9,059 higher. The nationalist vote was 17,207 lower in the Euro election compared to the council election. The Alliance Green vote was also 6,873 votes higher in the Euro election. How could this be? For the nationalist vote the reason is that in the council election there were many independent nationalist candidates who received 21,763 votes. Half of that vote was for dissident republican candidates. The combined SF-SDLP vote was 4,546 higher in the Euro election so 4,546 of that 21, 763 voted for SF or SDLP in the Euro election. It appears that another 6,873 voted Alliance Green in the Euro election. While a very small number voted for a unionist candidate it appears that 10,000 did not vote in the Euro election. There were actually 636,000 people who voted in the Euro election but 10,000 of those votes were invalid. Tweets and other observations from the polling stations indicated that most of these were blank ballots rather than spoiled ballots. So 10,000 of those independent nationalist voters who voted in the council election did not vote in the Euro election. The unionist vote in the Euro election was 9,510 higher in the Euro election compared to the council election. How could this possibly be? The Alliance Green vote was also higher in the Euro election so it is not possible that Alliance Green council voters voted unionist in the Euro election. The reason is that in the council elections there were 9,000 voters who did not vote in the council elections and these were mainly blank ballots. The TUV, UKIP and PUP did not compete in many constituencies so their voters could not vote for their preferred party. You will notice that the combined TUV-PUP-UKIP vote was 50,000 in the council elections but 100,000 in the Euro elections. The DUP-UUP vote was 31,000 less in the Euro election and when adding in the 10,000 independent unionist council vote that accounts for 41,000 of that extra TUV-UKIP vote in the Euro elections. It appears that 9,000 TUV-UKIP voters in the Euro election did not vote in the council election because they were unwilling to vote for the DUP-UUP candidates. Most of those additional 50,000 TUV-UKIP voters in the Euro election did vote for unionist candidates in the council elections but 9,000 did not. The ~9,000 invalid ballots in the council election were unionist voters and the 9,000 invalid ballots in the Euro election were nationalist voters. If there had been an acceptable independent nationalist candidate in the Euro election (i.e. PBP or dissident republican) then most of that extra 10,000 vote deficit in the nationalist vote in the Euro election would not have occurred. If the TUV, UKIP and PUP had competed in most DEA’s the unionist vote would have been 9,000 higher in the council election.

The Euro election provides an accurate view of the current state of the unionist electorate compared to the 2011 Assembly election. The unionist vote was up 191 compared to 2011 so we are essentially comparing the same voters who voted in 2011. Census statistics and NISRA emigration data indicate that the Protestant voting age population is unchanged since 2011. Half of NI21 voters originated from the unionist parties so the total unionist vote is up ~6,000 which is a 1% increase in turnout. In the Euro vote the TUV-UKIP-PUP vote was up 78,000 compared to 2011. The DUP vote was down 67,273 representing a loss of 1/3 of their 2011 electorate of 198,436. The UUP vote was down 4,093 but these were voter lost to NI21. Overall, the Euro vote was down ~26,000 from the 2011 Assembly election. It appears the nationalist vote was down ~34,000 and the unionist vote up~8,000. Unionist turnout was up 1% and nationalist turnout was down 5%. The official turnout figures are somewhat misleading because they are based only on the 1,250,000 voters who are on the electoral register. There are another 170,000 potential voters who are not on the register. The 635,000 who showed up to vote represent 45% of the whole adult (18+) population. The unionist turnout was approximately 49% and the nationalist turnout approximately 42% after accounting for Alliance, Green and NI21 transfers.

Now I will look at the winners and losers in the election. They are ranked from #1 to #11 based on how well they did in the election compared to 2011.

THE WINNERS

#1 TUV

The TUV are the #1 winner in this election. Their 75,806 Euro vote is 59,326 higher than their 2011 Assembly vote. Their 28,161 council vote is twice their 2011 council vote. Jim Allister far exceeded any predictions for his Euro vote. He was only 13,000 votes behind the UUP when he was eliminated. Another 3,000 UKIP transfers and an increased 1st preference of 10,000 (either from increased turnout or more 1st preference from DUP or UUP) and he would have been an elected MEP. My only criticism of the TUV was their failure to contest many DEA’s, including ones with unionist majorities such as Dunsilly, Airport, Glengormley, Cusher, etc. . If they had contested most DEA’s their council total probably would have exceeded 40,000. Analysis by constituency indicates they would elect MLA’s in East Derry, North Antrim, East Antrim and possible East Belfast. Other possibilities are Lagan Valley, South Antrim and Upper Bann. With their 2014 result they can effectively prevent Peter Robinson from granting any concessions to SF.

#2 UKIP

Their Euro vote of 24,584 was over 20,000 higher than their 2011 Assembly vote. At 4% it was twice the general expectation. Their council vote of 9,313was over 3 times their 2011 vote. As with the TUV my only criticism would be that they failed to contest most DEA’s. Although some of their Euro vote originated from the PUP and independents it is likely that their council vote would have doubled if they have contested most DEA’s.

#3 PUP

They had been written off as dead by most commentators. They topped the poll in Court and took a council seat from the DUP in Oldpark. They tripled their 2011 council vote. They galvanized the loyalist community over the Belfast flag controversy. There some pre-election speculation that their open leadership of the flag protests  would lead to a backlash and increased turnout among working class and middle class Catholics that would neutralize their increased vote. The exact opposite occurred. Nationalist voters stayed home, 34,000 of them compared to 2011. Their strategy confirmed that they have nothing to fear from the nationalist voters. My only criticism was their failure to stand a Euro candidate and more council candidates. The Euro candidate would have received at least 12,000 votes. Analysis of constituencies indicates that the DUP will lose an MLA in East Belfast which will be won by either the PUP or TUV. They potentially could win a seat in North Belfast where the combined PUP-TUV vote was 11%.

#4 UUP

The UUP did unexpectedly well considering that prior to the election it was thought that they would lose a significant number of votes to NI21. Their council vote was up slightly though the Euro vote was down slightly compared to 2011. There appears to have been only a 5,000 vote loss to NI21 in the council elections which was made up by an equally large gain from the DUP. Constituency tallies show they are now 7% higher than the DUP in Fermanagh South Tyrone and would take an Assembly seat from the DUP. With a terrible election result by the DUP (see below) Mike Nesbitt is in a good position to negotiate electoral pacts for Westminster. Expect the UUP to agree to step aside in East and North Belfast and possibly North Down with a UUP unity candidate in Fermanagh South Tyrone and South Belfast. The constituency vote indicates that the SF would now lose Fermanagh South Tyrone to a unionist unity candidate due to a further decline in nationalist turnout. The decline in the SDLP vote and total nationalist vote in South Belfast also indicates that a UUP unity candidate would also win in South Belfast. The DUP are already publicly pressing for an electoral pact with the UUP and the UUP can dictate the terms as the DUP desperately want an MP in East Belfast.

Neutral

#5 Green

The Green council vote was unchanged from 2011 but they did pick up key council seats in East Belfast and North Down. Their Euro vote was down from 2009 which was a low turnout election. Since their Euro vote was only 4,000 higher than their council vote they appear to have little appeal outside the few DEA’s they target. They will always have their niche. The influence of their voters is limited by the fact that their voters have the highest rate of non-transfers of any party. This limits the ability of their voters to elect members of other parties that would be friendly to their agenda.

Losers

#6 Alliance

Alliance barely qualifies for the loser category. It is a fact though that their council vote was down 7,000 compared to 2011 and their Euro vote was down 6,443 from the 2011 Assembly election. This is large in percentage terms. This decline is somewhat illusory since the majority of that decline is due to voters who defected to NI21. This is not the entire story. They did well in Belfast but their vote was down significantly in DEA’s outside of Belfast. They lost 20% of their vote in the DEA’s extending from Ballyclare to Carrickfergus to Larne Lough despite no competition from NI21. The vote was down in Castlereagh East and Ards as well. In those areas they lost votes to unionists. The East Belfast vote indicates that they would lose their only MP and with a unionist electoral pact it would definitely be lost.

#7 Sinn Fein

SF have generally been classed as winners in this election but only because of how well they did in the Republic, winning 3 euro seats. However, this article only concerns Northern Ireland. Their council vote declined 12,454 in only 3 years and their Euro vote was 18,411 less than their Assembly vote in 2011. This decline is actually worse because of the context in which it occurred. Census data indicate the nationalist electorate has increased by 24,000 since 2011. With the 2014 turnout the nationalist vote should have increased by 10,000 with most of that (~7,000) going to SF. So their true decline is in the 20,000 to 25,000 range. Less than 3 weeks before the election David Cameron was courting the DUP and at the same time the SF party leader was arrested and imprisoned. With such favouratism  by the British government towards the DUP while at the same time showing obvious contempt for the party leader one would expect that the party activists and republican voters would have been motivated to vote. Losing 10% of your electorate in such circumstances is not a good sign. They lost these voters to apathy since the independent nationalist vote also declined. Constituency vote shows they would lose an MLA seat in Fermanagh South Tyrone to the SDLP and also lose Assembly seats in West Belfast (unionist gain) and East Antrim (unionist gain)

#8 SDLP

The SDLP council vote was down 13,722 compared to 2011 and the Euro vote was down 12,692 compared to the 2011 Assembly vote. With the demographic changes since 2011 one would have expected their vote to be up perhaps 3,000. While their absolute vote decline is similar to SF their percentage decline is greater. The constituency vote indicates they would have lost their MP seat to the DUP in South Belfast even without a unionist pact. They would also lose an Assembly seat in South Belfast though gain one in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

#9 DUP

Despite all the spin by DUP politicians this election was a total disaster for the DUP. Their council vote was down 34,500 compared to 2011. Belfast was particularly bad. In the Court DEA the PUP topped the poll and their top vote getter McCoubry (formerly UDP) had only recently joined the party. His vote total almost equaled the vote of the other 3 DUP candidates combined. If he had not joined the DUP they would have gone from 4 councilors in 2011 to 1 in 2014. They lost a seat to the PUP in Oldpark and the UUP in Titanic. From 15 seats out of 51 in the old Belfast council they declined to 13 out of 60 in the new council. They are now also 7% behind the UUP in Fermanagh South Tyrone. Their council decline would have been greater but the TUV, UKIP and PUP did not contest many DEA’s. Their Euro vote declined 67,223 from their 2011 Assembly vote of 198,436. Losing a third of their voters places them firmly in the column as the worst loser among the major parties. Unlike the nationalist parties, they cannot blame their vote decline on voter apathy since unionist turnout was actually increased in 2014. Almost the entire DUP decline was due to loss of voters to the hard line unionist parties but votes were also lost to the UUP. Apparently the unionist electorate decided to send a message to the DUP for ambiguity regarding the flag protest. The controversy over the OTR’s damaged them as some British politicians claimed that the DUP knew all along about the amnesty plan but that the British government agreed to provide them cover by claiming that it was the UUP that agreed to the amnesty. Of course being in government with SF at Stormont did not help. The DUP have always been good at strategy. Expect the DUP to take a more hard-line approach with SF. The DUP are in an excellent position to do so. Their electorate demands it and they will make no concessions to SF on any matter. They are in a strong position since SF has no options. It is a lose-lose situation for SF. If SF concedes too much to the DUP then even more SF voters stay home or defect to dissident republicans. If SF collapses the Assembly then they will be hurt electorally in the Republic as they would be seen as unstable, unpredictable and unsuitable for any governing coalition. The DUP are certainly aware of the message they have been given by the unionist electorate as 1/3 of unionist voters voted for the TUV and UKIP, parties that believe that SF should not be allowed in any government in Northern Ireland. They will act accordingly.

#10 Conservatives

The Conservatives received their usual less than 1% vote. It is not even clear why they continue to compete. Probably because the national party insist that they do.

#11 NI21

What can I say? The party imploded in 2 days. Only 1 councilor elected. A Euro vote less than 2%. One MLA is involved in a scandal and certain to lose his seat in 2016. The other MLA is certain to lose his seat also as the NI21 vote was less than 1% in South Down. Will this party even exist in one month? Their best option would be to disband and encourage party members to join the Alliance Party or UUP.

Overall it was a major win for hardline unionism. Although the TUV and UKIP currently have only 2 MLA’s at Stormont they can effectively dictate DUP policy in the Executive with SF and they have 100,000 voters to back them up. Nationalism was the big loser with 34,000 voters dropping out of the electorate. The 38.5% nationalist vote in the Euro election is the lowest nationalist percentage in 20 years and turnout was only 42%. Nationalist nonvoters have given their silent approval of the hardline unionist agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a Middle Ground?


As the dust settles after another round of elections the same old questions, like the “dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone”, rear their weary heads yet again.

I have long thought that moving beyond the simple sectarian headcount was possible in elections here. Unlikely but possible. I have viewed the possibility passively more as an observer more than a participant. I have witnessed the relentless increase in theDreary Steeples nationalist vote over a relatively short period of time along with the inevitability of the decline in the pro union vote. The pro nationalist vote has stood still this time. I am quite relaxed about that. The nationalist vote in Fermanagh stood still for a long time before eventually powering ahead. There is no longer any dispute about which is the stronger voting block in that county. For many years the nationalist vote was kept in check by a three pronged approach. Gerrymandering, enforced emigration through allocation of employment and limitation of voting rights. That day is long gone thanks to the efforts of many others.

This round of elections has thrown up some interesting things. By accident almost, we have an all Ireland element in both the Euros and the local elections. The Sinn Fein performance is, without doubt, very good. In the Euro Elections a nationalist was elected on the first count exceeding the quota in the Northern constituency. They were elected in every other Irish region. Imagine how a certain Revd/ Dr/ Mr  Paisley would have reacted to that back in the day? There is no question that things are moving along at a rate of knots. The SDLP had a good candidate who performed well. He fell at the transfer hurdle.

Within Unionism, Dianne Dodds, who distinguished herself with her sour and nasty reaction at the previous election, limped over the line eventually, Jimbo did very well and will be pleased no doubt. Expect a lurch to his approach on the part of the DUP shortly. As for the UUP? Less said the better.

So the question remains, is there a middle ground?

NI21 imploded as we all know by now. Alliance did what Alliance do, 6 to 7 %. The Greens pretty much held their ground also although the Euro candidate performed poorly. I see no evidence of a resurgent middle ground yet. All I see is a nationalist  electorate reluctant to vote possibly due to a lack of motivation and a unionist electorate motivated by fear and loathing.

 

 

Time to draw breath?


Good evening all.

A couple of days full of high drama, political scandal, raised voices, wild predictions, political shocks, cummupances, high points, low points and even fisticuffs at count centres (Derry I believe). Great fun and I’ve enjoyed it for the most part. I hope you all have.

At time of writing 9 seats have still to be decided so I may be a little premature but I thought it would be a good evening to take stock and put some context on the results. The devil, as always, will be in the detail and time enough to look at that. Below is a chart examining the results in percentages over the last few Council elections in the North. It is not exhaustive but it is accurate as of now.

Councils 2014

As we may see above Sinn Fein have held their own, SDLP have a problem, the DUP have a major problem and the UUP have steadied the ship. The “dissident” Unionists have done pretty well and the Greens have done what the Greens usually do. I might add I was personally delighted for John Barry who I interviewed on this blog, getting elected in second place far above expectations. Nuala Toman of SF, also interviewed recently here, almost pulled off what would have been a major shock by narrowly failing to make the grade in Castlereagh South.

A number of wider political questions present themselves from these results.

Is this a typical “mid term” election where voters are punishing the incumbent governmental parties?

What are the parties doing to encourage political engagement from potential voters?

Is there a tendency of a drift to the extremes on the part of those who are politically active and voters?

Ah well, Let’s do it all again on Monday- from a European perspective?

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