In an earlier blog, Billy the Kid and Enda, identified four “tipping points” that will transform the political balance of power in this part of the world. They will also present tough challenges for political unionism and the wider community. The only strategy I can see so far in terms of recognising these forthcoming events is a shambles of an “outreach” policy by the DUP, if you could call it a policy, and a wider push towards a non aligned centralist political landscape. By this I mean Alliance, NI21, Integrated education,etc. (Fitzjameshorse has a word for it 😉 .)

The four tipping points, with definitions, are:

1. When Protestants lose their majority is when the Protestant/Unionist vote dips below 50%. This has happened but they still have a plurality (more than anyone else)
2. When the Protestant plurality gives way to a Catholic plurality is when Catholic/Nationalist vote is for example 46% whereas Protestant/Unionist vote is less than 46%
3. Nationalist seats in the assembly outnumber the Unionist seat number
4. Nationalist seats outnumber all other seats put together, therefore they can vote for anything they want as they will outnumber any coalition voting against them

So let’s take a look at progress in terms of these points.

As stated, point 1 has already happened. The most recent electoral results that we have are the 2011 Local Government and Assembly votes, nearly 3 years ago. They are set out in the table below along with the preceding elections in terms of vote percentages and actual seats won.

2005 2007 2011 2011
LGD Assembly LGD Assembly
Unionist 49.6% (301) 49.1% (55) 45.3% (274) 48.1% (55)
Nationalist 40.2% (227) 41.5% (45) 40.6% (225) 42.6% (43)
Centrist / Others 10.2% (54) 9.4% (8) 9.2% (44) 9.3% (10)

Point 2 is a tricky one, “When the Protestant plurality gives way to a Catholic plurality is when Catholic/Nationalist vote is for example 46% whereas Protestant/Unionist vote is less than 46%”

We know that at age 41 and below there is a catholic majority but we also know that the older age cohorts are the ones more likely to vote and the majority of those are likely to be unionists. We also know that the demographic gap is narrowing by 9,000 annually although it is only those over 18 that can affect the political balance. The balance has been static over the past 6 years but my belief is that this will change rapidly starting this year. The reason is that we have passed the magic 40. This is the age at which political awareness tends to outgrow political apathy. It is a tipping point.

Point 3 regarding nationalist assembly seats exceeding unionist seats is harder to predict. The Unionist policy of ghettoisation continues unabated. The reasoning underlying this is simply to prevent nationalists gaining a political majority. It has been the policy of unionism since 1921. It is a regrettable fact that the effect in 2014 is actually to ghettoise unionists.

Point 4 is the holy grail of nationalism. It happened before in 1921, we had another go with the GFA. Still some cannot accept it and the talk of repartition by unionists reveals that their reaction would be the same as it was then. My own view is that had the democratic will of ALL the people of this island been respected at that time it may have saved a lot of heartache.

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