Part 2 of Faha’s analysis of the new DEA’s
This 2nd analysis of the new district councils will cover the new Mid Ulster council, which encompasses all of the current Magherafelt, Cookstown and Dungannon councils. The new DEA’s bear little resemblance to the old DEA’s. The current Blackwater DEA has been divided up between the Clogher Valley and Dungannon Town DEA’s. Both the Torrent and Magherafelt DEA’s have added wards from Cookstown. The shapes of some of the DEA’s are quite odd with the new Cookstown DEA extending from Lough Neagh to Pomeroy and the new Moyola DEA from Lough Neagh to Draperstown. There were many alternative ward groupings proposed to the Boundary Commission but none were adopted. In the 2005 and 2011 district council elections the nationalist and unionist voting turnout was as follows
For the current Magherafelt and Cookstown DEA’s the data reveales some obvious conclusions:
#1 Turnout dropped dramatically between the 2005 and 2011 elections.For the current Magherafelt and Cookstown DEA the data shows some obvious conclusions.
#2 Turnout is higher in rural areas than the towns.
#3 Nationalist turnout is higher than unionist turnout in Magherafelt council but lower in Cookstown council. The current Dungannon DEA had the following results.
The current Dungannon DEA is as follows:
The Data above shows:
#1 Unionist and nationalist turnout was identical in 2005
#2 Unionist turnout decreased slightly between 2005 and 2011
#3 There was a total collapse of nationalist turnout between 2005 and 2011. Another 4,000 nationalist voters would have had to vote to equal unionist turnout. For each DEA the party vote change from 2005 to 2011 was:
The SF vote declined steeply in Torrent-these voters stayed at home. It also declined steeply in Dungannon Town but these SF voters defected to an independent nationalist. The SDLP vote was down but not as much as SF. How could the total nationalist vote be up in Blackwater but the turnout declined from 76% to 49%? An explanation of the census data is needed. Between 2001 and 2011 there was a large in migration of foreign nationals into Dungannon Town. Indeed they now account for 30% of the adult population (and 20% of the December 2013 electoral register). In turn, some of the native Catholic and Protestant population has moved to the rural wards of Blackwater, Torrent and even Clogher Valley. Also, there no longer appears to be any emigration of native Catholics in these DEA’s so there has been a large increase in the Catholic electorate. However, they do not vote. This can be seen most dramatically in the Clogher Valley DEA. The 2011 census showed 3806 voting age Protestants and 4835 voting age Catholics and 188 Other/None. Despite over 1000 more Catholic voters the unionist vote total exceeded the nationalist vote total 2885 to 2829 and the unionist parties won 3 of the 5 seats. Some of the nationalist voter deficit in Dungannon Town can be attributed to the lower voter turnout among ethnic nationals (at least 75% are Catholic and most of the remainder Other/None) but even taking this into account the native Catholic turnout is probably 10% less than the unionist turnout.
The new DEA’s have the following voting age demographics. The number of councilors to be elected and quota is in parenthesis.
On 2011 turnout, in the new Clogher Valley DEA, the nationalist parties will poll less than the unionist parties despite 760 more potential voters. They would barely poll 43%, which is 3 quotas. If nationalist turnout declines more, then there will be 4 unionist seats.
The SDLP missed out on a seat in Dungannon Town in 2011, 75 votes behind the DUP. There were 52 SDLP and 43 Alliance votes that transferred to no one. Ethnic nationals make up 25% of the voting age population (15% of the December 2013 electoral register). Whichever nationalist party is willing to register and target the ethnic nationals could take a seat from the DUP. Based on the new boundaries and a 2011 turnout the new council would be expected to have:
SF 19 SDLP 6 Nationalist 1 UUP 6 DUP 8
There could be 1 more SDLP seat and 1 less DUP if nationalist turnout increases by 5% in Dungannon.
In 2011 the combined Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt councils elected 54 councilors:
SF 23 SDLP 9 Nationalist 1 UUP 9 DUP 12
The new council will elect 40 councilors and it appears that there will be 7 fewer unionist and 7 fewer nationalist councilors. It could be 8 fewer unionist and 6 fewer nationalist depending on nationalist turnout in Dungannon DEA