OK, here’s Fahas latest analysis for the the May Council elections. My favourite constituency 😉 and perhaps one that may throw up a surprise or two! Interestingly, given the previous post, Faha predicts a gain for the Green party but no joy again for the SDLP.
This 10th analysis of the new district councils will cover the new North Down Ards council. This new council comprises the current Ards and North Down councils. The demographic breakdown of the new council is 13.12% Catholic, 75.05% Protestant, 1.1% Other and 10.73% None. It has the highest percentage of Protestants and the highest percentage of None of all the new councils. The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections. 3 of the DEA’s in North Down and 1 in Ards have never had candidates from a nationalist party. I used the transfer data in adjoining DEA’s where there have been SDLP candidates to estimate the turnout of the nationalist electorate in those DEA’s where there have been no candidates.
The election turnout for the 2005 and 2011 elections indicate:
#1 There was a decline in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.
#2 Nationalist turnout is low in all DEA’s except the Ards Peninsula. This is partly due to the failure of SF and the SDLP to contest most elections. The 2005 election in Bangor West provides much information on who Catholics vote for. In that election, 50% of Catholics voted for the SDLP and the other 50% voted Alliance or Green. Also, the transfer pattern indicated that 20% of Alliance and Green voters were Catholic in that election. In 2011 in Ards East and Newtownards, 1/3 of Catholics voted for the SDLP and 2/3 for Alliance or Green. The transfer pattern indicated that 20% of Alliance and Green were Catholic.
#3 In the 2011 Assembly election, nationalist voter apathy (approximately 800 voter deficit within the Strangford boundaries) resulted in no nationalist representation from Strangford in the Assembly. The SDLP candidate was 458 votes behind Mike Nesbitt of the UUP on the final count. This is the 2nd constituency where nationalist voter apathy had a profound influence on Northern Ireland politics. If not for the nationalist voter apathy in Strangford, Joe Boyle of the SDLP would have been elected and Mike Nesbitt of the UUP would have been defeated. With his defeat he would not have become the future leader of the UUP. The other constituency was North Antrim. There was a 1,700 nationalist voter deficit in Ballymena council and Ballymoney Town and Declan O’Loan of the SDLP lost to Jim Allister of the TUV by only 613 votes. If not for the nationalist voter apathy, Jim Allister would have been defeated and it is possible that the TUV may have dissolved. Neither Jim Allister nor Mike Nesbitt ever thanked all those nationalist voters for staying home even though their subsequent successful political careers were due to those nationalist nonvoters.
The change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:
In North Down, there was a massive collapse in the UUP vote. Since there was little change in the Alliance and DUP vote, it appears that many of the UUP voters stayed home. The independent unionist vote was also down significantly. The decline in the Green vote in Bangor West was entirely due to the fact that the Independent was a former Green who stood as an independent and took most of the Green vote with him.
In Ards, there was also a massive collapse of the UUP vote. Since the Alliance vote was up slightly some of the UUP vote defected to Alliance but many stayed home. There was also a collapse in the DUP vote that was just as large as that for the UUP. Some stayed home but the majority of the decline was due to defections to the TUV and independent unionists. There was no SF candidate in the Peninsula DEA and that entire SF vote from 2005 as well as the independent nationalist vote from 2005 went to the SDLP.
There were only minor changes to 3 of the DEA’s in the current Ards council area (see map). Ards East was abolished and divided up among 3 other DEA’s. Millisle was added to the new Peninsula DEA. Most of the town of Newtownards is now within one DEA. There were more extensive changes in the North Down council area with Holywood expanding into Bangor West and Ballyholme and Groomsport now including Donaghadee. The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.
The average ward electorate is 2816. The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.
Holywood 14187 (2837) Bangor West 13547 (2709) Bangor Central 17254 (2876) Bangor East & Donaghadee 14251 (2850) Peninsula 16751 (2792) Comber 13729 (2746) Newtownards 20056 (2865)
The party makeup after the 2011 Ards and North Down council elections was:
SF 0 SDLP 1 Alliance 10 Green 1 Independent 1 UUP 10 DUP 22 Unionist 3
The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:
SF 0 SDLP 1 Alliance 8 Green 2 Independent 1 UUP 8 DUP 18 Unionist 2
The new council will have 8 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.
SF 0 SDLP 0 Alliance -2 Green 1 Independent 0 UUP -2 DUP -4 Unionist -1
The final DEA boundaries were unfavourable to the SDLP in the North Down area. There were proposals to enlarge the Holywood and Bangor West DEA’s to 7 wards which would have resulted in 2 DEA’s with a nationalist electorate of 18% to 20% with a quota of 12.5%. If those proposals had passed there could be 2 additional SDLP councilors elected. There is still the possibility of a SDLP councilor in Holywood but it would require a robust nationalist turnout and transfers from an eliminated Green or Alliance candidate. It does not appear that this will be a DUP majority council but it will always be a unionist majority council.