The District Council elections will be held on May 2nd so it is time to do an analysis for those elections. The 2014 elections were a good year for the unionist parties. Nationalist turnout was low, 7% below unionist turnout.

The seats won by party were:

DUP                           130

UUP                            88

TUV                             13

PUP                               4

UKIP                             3

Total Unionist         238

SF                              105

SDLP                           66

PBP                              1

Total Nationalist    172

Alliance                      32

Green                          3

NI21                             1

Total                           36

Independents           15

Will there be any significant changes in 2019? NI21 no longer exists and there is a new nationalist party- Aontu. There is also the major backdrop of an impending Brexit, the nature of which will greatly affect Northern Ireland. Nationalist turnout was much higher in the 2017 Assembly election, only 1% less than unionist turnout. The results in 2019 will greatly depend on whether the electorate of 2014 shows up, or that of 2017.

What is the nature of that electorate? Based on the 2011 census, all those aged 10 to 17 are now old enough to vote. Subtracted from that voting age population are the 115,000 of voting age who have died, mainly the elderly. There has also been significant inward migration of foreign nationals and significant outward migration of natives. The census gives 2 sets of data on Religion. One is Religion plus Religion brought up in. The other is stated Religion at the time of the census. My estimates for the electorate of 2019 are:

Religion and Religion Brought Up In:

Native Irish

Catholic                       42.0%

Protestant                   45.4%

None/Other                 3.6%

Non Native

Foreign Nationals        9.0%

The Catholic Protestant gap is 3.4% and this gap was almost identical to the nationalist unionist gap in the 2017 Assembly election when the gap was 4%

My estimates for the stated Religion are:

Native Irish

Catholic                       40.3%

Protestant                   40.8%

None/Other                 9.9%

Non Native

Foreign Nationals        9.0%

This dataset has been found to be more useful when questioning voters on a Border Poll. With no Brexit, the None/Other group are overwhelmingly in favour of Northern Ireland remaining in the UK.

With a Hard Brexit they are 2 to 1 in favour of a United Ireland.

I will use the Religion and Religion Brought Up In data for this election since it does not involve a Border Poll.

I estimate the actual electorate to be different for several reasons. Those with None/Other background vote at a lower rate. Also foreign nationals are only 5% of the electorate and also vote at a lower rate. If Catholic and Protestant turnout is equal in this election then this would be the voting population:

Catholic                       44.8%

Protestant                   48.2%

None/Other                 3.0%

Foreign Nationals        4.0%

Who will vote in Northern Ireland? There are also local and Euro elections in England, Scotland and Wales in May. Since Brexit has been delayed new polls have been conducted and show a massive drop in support for the Conservative Party and a large increase in support for the new Brexit Party and UKIP. Several polls have shown support for the Conservatives below 20% for the Euro election and support for UKIP and the Brexit Party between 25% and 30%. The Conservatives are being punished for failing to deliver Brexit.

However, the situation is different in Northern Ireland.

The 2019 Northern Ireland electorate is now 60% Remain in the EU. Will Northern Ireland voters punish the pro Brexit DUP?

DUP voters will not punish the DUP since polls show that 80% of their voters prefer leaving the EU with No Deal. A small percentage may defect to the UUP or Alliance-Green but the vast majority will still vote DUP. However, nationalist and nonsectarian voters may decide to punish the DUP for their support of a Hard Brexit and turn out and vote for pro EU parties. We will find out on May 2nd.

 

This first analysis includes the DEA’s of Lisburn- Castlereagh and North Down-Ards councils.

Killultagh- 5 seats   Quota 16.7%

2019 Electorate

Catholic          34%
Protestant      61.5 %

None/Other     4.5%

Candidates

3 DUP   2 UUP   1 SF 1 SDLP 1 Alliance 1 Independent

2014 Results

SF                   13.2%

SDLP              10.8%             1 seat

Alliance           7.0%

NI21                 6.2%

DUP               44.6%             3 seats

UUP               18.2%             1 seat

Based on the demographics there should be 2 nationalist quotas here. The Catholic population has increased by 2% since 2014, which should increase the SF vote to near a quota. Nationalist turnout was also 15% higher in 2017. The NI21 vote in 2014 transferred half to Alliance, ¼ to DUP and ¼ to SDLP-SF. The UUP standing 2 candidates is a poor strategy as the UUP likely will have only 1 quota. The DUP need 50% to elect 3 and there will be very few UUP or Alliance transfers (Alliance transfers were 75% nationalist and 25% DUP in 2014) so the SDLP should obtain the 5th seat on Alliance transfers.

Prediction

2 DUP 1 UUP 1 SF 1 SDLP

Change -1 DUP +1 SF

Lisburn North- 6 seats   Quota 14.3%

2019 Electorate

Catholic           26%
Protestant       67.5 %

None/Other      6.5%

Candidates

3 DUP 2 UUP 1 UKIP 1 Conservative 1 SF 1 SDLP 1 Alliance

2014 Results

SF                    7.5%

SDLP               7.0%

Alliance          10.8%          1 seat

NI21                  8.6%          1 seat

DUP               37.5%           3 seats

UUP               15.5%           1 seat

TUV                  4.5%

PUP                  3.1%

UKIP                 5.1%

Other                0.5%

Based on the demographics there could be 2 nationalist seats here. However, nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout (33% vs 45%). The SF vote was higher than the SDLP vote but the SDLP candidate in 2019 is the NI21 candidate who was elected in 2014. While not all of his vote as NI21 will go to the SDLP the majority will. There are no PUP or TUV candidates in 2019 and most their votes will go to UKIP, UUP or DUP. If nationalist turnout equaled unionist turnout and the SF vote exceeded the Alliance vote then SF could elect one here. More likely the SDLP and Alliance candidates will be elected on SF transfers and Alliance will pick up enough NI21 votes to be close to a 1st count quota.

 

Prediction

3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP

Change -1 NI21 +1 SDLP

Lisburn South- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

2019 Electorate

Catholic          22%
Protestant      61 %

None/Other     7%

Candidates

4 DUP 2 UUP 1 TUV 1 UKIP 1 Ind Unionist 1 SF 1 SDLP 1 Alliance 1 Independent

2014 Results

SF                       0%

SDLP               6.8%

Alliance          6.9%           1 Alliance

Green              2.2%

NI21                 8.9%

DUP               53.6%          4 seats

UUP               14.0%          1 seat

TUV                  7.5%

The demographics here indicate there is well over 1 nationalist quota. For some unknown reason this DEA has the lowest nationalist turnout, only 20%, of any DEA in all of Northern Ireland that has a nationalist candidate. There are 600 EU nationals on the register here and if the SDLP can persuade even a minority of those to vote for a pro EU party and against the pro Brexit unionist parties then the SDLP vote should increase significantly. SF is not standing a candidate here.

Prediction

3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP

Change -1 DUP +1 SDLP

Downshire West- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

2019 Electorate

Catholic          15%
Protestant      77 %

None/Other     8%

Candidates

3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Conservative 1 Green 1 SDLP 1 Alliance

2014 Results

SDLP               4.0%

Alliance          8.5%              1 seat

Green              2.1%

NI21                 6.1%

DUP               34.6%              2 seats

UUP               27.4%              2 seats

TUV                  5.8%

UKIP                 5.0%

Conservative  6.5%

There is no nationalist quota here. Alliance will elect one on additional votes from NI21 voters and transfers from the SDLP and Greens. There are no TUV or UKIP candidates in 2019 and their votes will increase the DUP and UUP 1st preferences.

Prediction

2 DUP 2 UUP 1 Alliance

Downshire East- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

Catholic          14.5%
Protestant      78.0 %

None/Other     7.5%

Candidates

3 DUP 2 UUP 1 SDLP 1 Alliance

2014 Results

SDLP               0.0%

Alliance          11.5%         1 seat

NI21               11.6%

DUP               47.2%           3 seats

UUP               19.5%           1 UUP

TUV                  6.9%

UKIP                 3.3%

I expect no change here. Alliance should be elected on the 1st count.

Prediction    3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance

Castlereagh South- 7 seats Quota 12.5%

Catholic          46.5%
Protestant      46.5%

None/Other     7%

Candidates

3 DUP 1 UUP 1 TUV 2 Alliance 1 Green 1 Independent 2 SDLP 1 SF

2014 Results

SF                      9.9%

SDLP               22.7%          2 seats

Alliance          23.3%            2 seats

NI21                 4.4%

DUP               22.2%              2 seats

UUP               11.1%              1 UUP

TUV                  6.4%

This is one of more fascinating elections for 2019. Much of this has to do with the turmoil within the Alliance Party. Both of the Alliance candidates elected in 2014, Geraldine Rice and Vasundhara Kamble, are standing for election this time but not as Alliance candidates. Rice is running as an independent and Kamble for the DUP! They also signed each other’s nomination papers so must be on good terms with each other. There are 2 different Alliance candidates. SF was only 200 votes short of a quota in 2014. It is likely that the SF candidate will be elected on the 1st count in 2019 for 2 reasons. The nationalist vote was 15 % higher in the 2017 Assembly election compared to 2014. The nationalist electorate has also increased by 2% since 2014. I expect that both the SDLP and Alliance vote will be short of 2 quotas. However, both will benefit from transfers from Rice and the Greens. The UUP 1st preference vote will be less than 10% but in 2014 half the TUV vote transferred to the UUP and there will be some transfers from Rice so the UUP should elect one. The DUP total vote will be in the 20% range and with only 1/3 of the TUV vote transferring to the DUP (as in 2014) they will be short of 2 quotas.

Prediction

1 DUP 1 UUP 2 Alliance 2 SDLP 1 SF

Change -1 DUP +1 SF.

Castlereagh East- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic          6%
Protestant     87 %

None/Other     7%

Candidates 4 DUP 1 UUP 1 TUV 2 Alliance

2014 Results

Alliance          12.5%              1 seat

Green              6.7%

NI21                 3.7%

DUP               48.4%               3 seats

UUP                 8.8%                1 seat

TUV                 10.4%              1 seat

PUP                   7.5%

Unionist            2.1%

If the Alliance party could tap into the anti Brexit vote here they could elect 2 but the combined unionist vote is over 5 quotas. The UUP vote in East Belfast has been declining since 2014 and the UUP barely edged out the 4th DUP candidate in 2014. The only way the UUP could win would be if the Alliance candidates are poorly balanced and one is eliminated before the UUP and the UUP receives enough of the Alliance surplus.

Prediction

4 DUP 1 TUV 1 Alliance

Change +1 DUP -1 UUP

Overall this council will elect 2 more SF and 1 SDLP with 3 fewer DUP

 

North Down-Ards

This council is includes all of the North Down Westminster constituency and most of the Strangford constituency.  North Down voted 53% Remain and this result could impact the vote in the council election. One surprise here is that the SDLP have essentially abandoned competing in the council, contesting only one seat in Ards Peninsula.

Ards Peninsula- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic          22.5%
Protestant      70.5%

None/Other     7%

Candidates 3 DUP 1 UUP 1 UKIP 1 Conservative 1 Alliance 1 Green 1 SDLP 1 SF

2014 Results

 

SF                      5.4%

SDLP               19.2%        1 seat

Alliance           8.1%          1 seat

NI21                 1.6%

DUP                 47.1%         3 seats

UUP                 16.6%         1 seat

Conservative    2.2%

Good nationalist turnout here. There is unlikely to be any change. The only conceivable path for a seat for SF would be if the SDLP vote declined to the 15% range and the SF vote increased to 10%. SF were 300 votes behind Alliance in the next to last count and the Alliance total included almost 200 SDLP transfers. Alliance will probably have a higher 1st count vote since they will attract anti Brexit unionists.

Prediction

3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP

Comber- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

Catholic          6.5%
Protestant      86.5%

None/Other     7%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 TUV 1 Ind unionist 1 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance          13.2%        1 seat

NI21                 2.7%

DUP               39.2%          2 seats

UUP                 22.1%        1 seat

TUV                   9.3%         1 seat

UKIP                  6.9%

Conservative    6.6%

The TUV barely edged out the DUP for the last seat by 40 votes. However, there is no UKIP candidate this time and much of their vote will go to the to the TUV 1st preference.

Prediction

2 DUP 1 UUP 1 TUV 1 Alliance

Newtownards- 7 seats Quota 12.5%

Catholic              9%
Protestant      82.5%

None/Other      8.5%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 UKIP 2 Ind unionists 2 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance             12.7%         1 seat

NI21                     3.1%

DUP                   35.7%          3 seats

UUP                   15.2%          2 seats

TUV                     6.4%

Unionist             25.3%         1 seat

Conservative       1.5%

There will be no change here. Menagh will top the poll and 90% of his surplus will go to unionist candidates.

Prediction

3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Unionist (Menagh) 1 Alliance

Bangor East and Donaghadee- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic               8.5%
Protestant        84%

None/Other       7.5%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Conservative 1 Ind unionist 1 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance          9.8%           1 seat

Green              3.9%

NI21                 2.6%

DUP                32.4%         3 seats

UUP                 18.9%        1 seat

TUV                   5.3%

UKIP                  5.4%

Unionist            19.2%        1 seat

Conservative      2.6%

 

Alan Chamber was elected with over a quota as an independent in 2014 but in 2019 he is standing for the UUP. Not all of his vote will go with him but enough should to elect 2 UUP. With no UKIP or TUV candidates the DUP should elect 3.

Prediction

3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Alliance

Change +1 UUP -1 Independent

Bangor Central- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic               12%
Protestant           77%

None/Other        11%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 UKIP 1 Conservative 4 independents 1 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance             12.8%           1 seat

Green                  7.6%            1 seat

NI21                     2.7%

DUP                   28.0%            2 seats

UUP                   15.7%            1 seat

TUV                     4.6%

UKIP                    5.9%

Unionist            20.3%

Conservative      2.6%

I expect the 1st preference Alliance and Green vote to go up as more voters vote for anti-Brexit parties. The UUP elected 2 in 2014 though their 1st preference voter was slightly over 1 quota. However, they have no competition from the TUV and UKIP this time so their 1st preference vote should be higher and they will receive transfers from the many independents.

Prediction

2 DUP 2 UUP 1 Alliance 1 Green

Bangor West- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

Catholic               15%
Protestant           76%

None/Other         9%

Candidates 2 DUP 1 UUP 1 Conservative 2 Alliance 1 Green 1 SF

2014 Results

SDLP                     4.9%

Alliance              17.3%        1 seat

Green                  6.4%          1 seat

NI21                     6.4%

DUP                   31.9%           2 seats

UUP                   16.2%           1 seat

TUV                     9.1%

Unionist              3.1%

Conservative      7.2%

There is no TUV candidate this time so all DUP and UUP candidates will be elected on the 1st count. The Green candidate won only because of poor balancing between the 2 Alliance candidates, a mistake that will not be repeated this year.

Prediction

2 DUP 1 UUP 2 Alliance

Change +1 Alliance -1 Green

Holywood and Clandeboye- 5 seats Quota 16.7 %

Catholic               18.5%
Protestant           71.5%

None/Other         10%

Candidates 2 DUP 2 UUP 1 Conservative 2 Alliance 1 Green

 

 

2014 Results

SDLP                     5.0%

Alliance              22.2%          1 seat

Green                  14.9%          1 seat

NI21                     3.4%

DUP                   31.9%            2 seats

UUP                   17.8%            1 seat

Conservatives    4.3%

Unionist               0.6%

This DEA would have voted over 60% Remain and this will change the vote here. In 2014 the 2nd Alliance candidate was only 195 votes behind the 2nd DUP. With no NI21 or SDLP candidates the Green candidate should be elected on the 1st count. There will be an increased Alliance vote coming from anti-Brexit voters which will elect 2 Alliance.

Prediction

1 DUP 1 UUP 2 Alliance 1 Green

Change   -1 DUP     +1 Alliance

Overall for this council 2 more Alliance and one less each for DUP and Greens