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|
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.
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|
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.
|Fermanagh and South Tyrone||52%||63%|
|Newry and Armagh||50%||54%|
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.