By Faha

There has been some speculation recently that there will be an Assembly election called by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State in January. With the Westminster election results it is possible to estimate the number of seats that each party could win in each constituency.

There are a few caveats with these predictions. There were some Image result for northern ireland assembly map"constituencies where not all the parties competed (North, South and East Belfast, North Down, Fermanagh-South Tyrone) and there is evidence of some tactical voting in certain constituencies.

EU nationals were not permitted to vote in the Westminster election and the addition of these voters in an Assembly election could influence the outcome as this could add another 10,000+ voters.

There is also the issue of whether the nationalist parties, especially Sinn Fein, should agree to an election without certain changes in the nature of the Assembly. The issue of gerrymandering of the current constituencies also needs to be addressed.

Northern Ireland

SF

181853

22.76%

SDLP

118737

14.86%

Aontu

9814

1.23%

PBP

7526

0.94%

Nationalist

690

0.09%

39.88%

Nationalist

Alliance

134115

16.78%

Green

1996

0.25%

17.13%

Other

Independent

751

0.09%

UUP

93123

11.65%

DUP

244127

30.55%

Other Unionist

6302

0.79%

43.00%

Unionist

Total

799,034

Overall for Northern Ireland the Westminster unionist vote was 43% and the nationalist vote 40% with 17% for others (almost all Alliance). This was a nominal decline of 6% in the unionist vote and 2% in the nationalist vote.

For the individual constituencies these were the results and would be the implications for an Assembly election.

Foyle

SF

9,771

20.73%

SDLP

26,881

57.02%

Aontu

2,032

4.31%

PBP

1,332

2.83%

Alliance

1,267

2.69%

Green

0.00%

UUP

1,088

2.31%

DUP

4,773

10.12%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

47,144

The SDLP would elect 3 on these numbers. SF would elect 2 as Aontu, PBP and Alliance are far behind SF in the percentage vote. The DUP won a unionist seat with only 500 votes to spare and it appears likely there would be no unionist seat with a total unionist vote of 12.4% (Quota is 16.7%)

East Londonderry

SF

6,128

15.59%

SDLP

6,158

15.67%

Aontu

1,731

4.40%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

5,921

15.07%

Green

0.00%

UUP

3,599

9.16%

DUP

15,765

40.11%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

39,302

SF and the SDLP are only 1% short of a quota and would receive enough Aontu transfers to elect both. Alliance is only 1.5% short of a quota and would receive enough UUP transfers for a seat. The fact that SF, SDLP and Alliance have an equal vote just short of a quota indicates there will be one unionist seat lost here.

West Tyrone

SF

16,544

40.17%

SDLP

7,330

17.80%

Aontu

972

2.36%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

3,979

9.66%

Green

521

1.26%

UUP

2,774

6.74%

DUP

9,066

22.01%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

41,186

There should be no change here. The SDLP are over a quota. SF are short of 3 quotas but should elect 3 on transfers. The total unionist vote is 28.75% which is far short of 2 quotas (33.3%) and the DUP has no source of transfers for the additional 4.5% needed to elect 2.

Mid Ulster

SF

20,473

45.88%

SDLP

6,384

14.31%

Nationalist

690

1.55%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

3,526

7.90%

Green

0.00%

UUP

2,611

5.85%

DUP

10,936

24.51%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

44,620

No change here. The total unionist vote is 3% short of 2 quotas and the DUP have no source of transfers from the non unionist parties.

Fermanagh South Tyrone

SF

21,986

43.31%

SDLP

3,446

6.79%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

2,650

5.22%

Independent

751

1.48%

UUP

21,929

43.20%

DUP

0.00%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

50762

The 3rd SF seat is at risk here and was only won in 2017 when the SDLP candidate was eliminated 60 votes behind the 3rd SF candidate. The doubling of the Alliance vote here increases the risk to the 3rd SF candidate since Alliance voters are much more likely to transfer to the SDLP.

Newry and Armagh

SF

20,287

39.95%

SDLP

9,449

18.61%

Aontu

1,628

3.21%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

4,211

8.29%

Green

0.00%

UUP

4,204

8.28%

DUP

11,000

21.66%

Other Unionist

0.00%

No change here. Although it appears the 3rd SF seat may be at risk the total unionist vote is only 30%, more than 3% short of 2 quotas. Alliance have half a quota but if the 3 SF candidates are balanced Alliance will be eliminated.

Upper Bann

SF

12,291

24.56%

SDLP

4,623

9.24%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,433

12.85%

Green

0.00%

UUP

6,197

12.38%

DUP

20,501

40.97%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

50,045

SF would win 2 seats here since the SDLP would be eliminated due to the higher Alliance vote. The total unionist vote is 53%. If the DUP have perfect balancing the UUP would be eliminated and Alliance would be elected with some UUP transfers. There is a significant EU nationals vote here so the total unionist vote could be only 50% which would make an Alliance seat more likely.

South Down

SF

16,137

32.43%

SDLP

14,517

29.17%

Aontu

1,266

2.54%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,916

13.90%

Green

0.00%

UUP

3,307

6.65%

DUP

7,619

15.31%

Other Unionist

0.00%

SF is just short of 2 quotas and the SDLP is 4% short of 2 quotas. Aontu transfers will help both parties but the SDLP would still be 1.5% short of 2 quotas. Balancing will determine outcome. Alliance are almost 3% short of a quota but will be closer on UUP transfers. Only one unionist seat here.

North Antrim

SF

5,632

12.79%

SDLP

2,943

6.68%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,231

14.14%

Green

0.00%

UUP

8,139

18.48%

DUP

20,860

47.35%

Other Unionist

246

0.56%

Total

44,051

There would be one less unionist seat here. The nationalist vote is 19.5%, almost 3% over a quota. That surplus will go to Alliance which will put them over a quota.

East Antrim

SF

2,120

5.69%

SDLP

902

2.42%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

10,165

27.28%

Green

685

1.84%

UUP

5,475

14.69%

DUP

16,871

45.28%

Other Unionist

1,043

2.80%

Total

37,261

There would also be one less unionist seat here. Alliance is 6% short of 2 quotas but the combined Green, SDLP and SF vote is 10% so 2 Alliance will easily be elected.

South Antrim

SF

4,887

11.37%

SDLP

2,288

5.32%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

8,190

19.06%

Green

0.00%

UUP

12,460

28.99%

DUP

15,149

35.25%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

42,974

No change here with 3 unionists, 1 Alliance and 1 SF.

Lagan Valley

SF

1,098

2.42%

SDLP

1,758

3.87%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

13,087

28.82%

Green

0.00%

UUP

8,606

18.95%

DUP

19,586

43.14%

Other Unionist

1,270

2.80%

Total

45,405

Alliance is far ahead of the combined SDLP-SF vote and will win 2 seats here with the 2nd at the expense of the SDLP.

Strangford

SF

555

1.48%

SDLP

1,994

5.32%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

10,634

28.37%

Green

790

2.11%

UUP

4,023

10.73%

DUP

17,705

47.23%

Other Unionist

1784

4.76%

Total

37,485

Another lost unionist seat here as Alliance is only 5% short of 2 quotas. The combined Green, SDLP and SF vote is 9% so Alliance should easily elect 2 on transfers.

North Down

SF

0.00%

SDLP

0.00%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

18,358

45.17%

Green

0.00%

UUP

4,936

12.14%

DUP

15,390

37.87%

Other Unionist

1,959

4.82%

Total

40,643

There was no Green candidate so it is unknown whether it would be one Green and one Alliance elected or 2 Alliance. If the UUP candidate is eliminated it is possible that 2 Alliance and 1 Green could be elected on UUP and other unionist transfers.

Belfast East

Alliance

19,055

44.89%

Green

0.00%

UUP

2,516

5.93%

DUP

20,874

49.18%

Other Unionist

Total

42445

The UUP could lose their seat to the DUP. However, the council election results indicate this may not occur. However, if the UUP vote does not return to council levels then 2 Alliance and 1 Green could be elected on UUP transfers. Turnout was only 50% in nationalist Short Strand so if that vote turns out for an Assembly election there could be a lost unionist seat here.

South Belfast

SF

SDLP

27,079

57.19%

Aontu

550

1.16%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,786

14.33%

Green

0.00%

UUP

1,259

2.66%

DUP

11,678

24.66%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

47352

On raw numbers the SDLP would win 3 seats here. However, there were no SF or Green candidates. Nevertheless, the SDLP could win 2. There is only one unionist seat here so the other 2 seats would be 1 Alliance and SF and the Greens for the 5th seat.

Belfast North

SF

23,078

47.06%

SDLP

0.00%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

4,824

9.84%

Green

0.00%

UUP

0.00%

DUP

21,135

43.10%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

49,037

The raw vote shows only 2 unionist seats and 3 SF seats. SF will probably win 2 with the SDLP or Alliance winning the 3rd non unionist seat.

Belfast West

SF

20,866

53.80%

SDLP

2,985

7.70%

Aontu

1,635

4.22%

PBP

6,194

15.97%

Alliance

1,882

4.85%

Green

0.00%

UUP

0.00%

DUP

5,220

13.46%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

38,782

PBP will win one as they are just short of a quota. The DUP are over 3% short of a quota with no source for transfers. SF could win 4 again. The risk to the 4th seat comes from the SDLP since the SDLP will receive many Alliance transfers and some Aontu transfers. With good balancing SF could retain 4.

An Assembly election would result in a net loss of 5 unionist seats for a total of 35. Nationalist seats would be in the 39 to 41 range so basically unchanged. Alliance and Green seats would increase by 4 to 6 and could be as high as 16 seats but no fewer than 14.

They are a few matters that need to be addressed before SF, SDLP, Alliance and Greens agree to a new election and the formation of a new government at Stormont.

#1 Petition of Concern

This was originally inserted in the GFA to protect the nationalist minority from domination by a unionist majority. However, it was abused by the DUP to prevent passage of any legislation the DUP did not agree with. The unionists are now in a minority in the current Assembly and likely an even smaller minority in the next one. The unionist minority does not need protection. The petition of concern should be abolished.

#2 Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister

There should be no requirement as to the composition of the Executive. A voluntary coalition should be introduced. The unionist minority cannot appoint any unionist to the Executive without the support of the Alliance and Green parties. It is inconceivable that those parties would vote for any DUP MLA for First Minister or even Deputy First Minister. The nationalist parties are actually in control in this matter. for example, the nationalist parties could elect Clare Bailey as First Minister and Sorcha Eastwood as Deputy First Minister (or reverse the positons I mentioned). The Green and Alliance parties would be ecstatic. The nationalist parties would find this acceptable and female MLA’s would celebrate the outcome. The DUP would be outraged but there is nothing they could do about it.

Of course, both the DUP and SF would be opposed to a voluntary coalition. SF would be opposed since they want a guaranteed position in the Executive. The DUP would be opposed since their vote would decline.

They could no longer frighten unionist voters with the prospect of a SF First Minister.

#3 Gerrymandering

The current constituencies are based upon a review that was last completed 12 years ago. The recent review was never acted upon by Westminster.

The constituencies have become grossly unequal in electors with Newry and Armagh containing almost 85,000 voters and East Antrim only 65,600. The Boundary Review for Northern Ireland should be separate for Stormont constituencies and the 18 constituencies should not vary more than +- 2%.

An impartial Boundary Review Commission should be appointed with equal input from the British and Irish governments.

It should not take 8 years as the current review has done and should complete all its work in one year.