The key difference between Assembly 2016 and Assembly 2017 is that only five MLAs will be elected from each constituncy. For at least eighteen MLAs and their staff, this election has come four years too early.
The percentage of votes required to get elected…the quota…will be higher but I am not thinking in terms of percentages. Rather I am thinking in terms of votes cast in May last year and the number of votes likely to be cast this year.
Too often …analysts with some justification …focus on the statistics of elections. Arguably this one is different. There might actually be Politics involved.
So ….South Down
May 2016: Quota: 5868
SDLP (2 seats) 12901
Sinn Féin (2 seats) 12766
DUP ( 1 seat) 5035
UUP (1 seat) 3481
Others: TUV 2718, Alliance 2200, Independent (McCallister) 1100, Green 850.
SDLP: Sinead Bradley, Colin McGrath
Sinn Féin: Chris Hazzard, Sinead Ennis.
Hazzard is outgoing. Sinead Ennis replaces outgoing Caitriona Ruane
DUP: Jim Wells
UUP: Harold McKee
TUV: Lyle Rea
Alliance: Paddy Brown
Stood in 2016
Tory: Gary Hynds
Independent: Paddy Clarke
Green: Hannah George
There are three scenarios.
People will be so disgusted at Stormont itself, that they just dont come out.
They are so disgusted at DUP-Sinn Féin, they will turn out.
DUP and Sinn Féin will play the bogey man card and people do turn out.
My gut feeling is that this election is a little like the 1998 Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Unlikely people will vote.
I am guessing at 42,000 votes and a quota of 7,000.
Only ten candidates and all parties trying to play safe but obviously at least one will lose a seat. The quota will be a relatively high threshold.
SDLP will poll around 13,300 which will be close to two quotas. I would expect Sinead Bradley (from the Newry area) to poll higher than Colin McGrath. Colin has Brown and Clarke competing in his Downpatrick base.
Sinn Féin ….12,700 and Hazzard will outpoll Ennis.
The unionists…..effectively last time the vote split four ways. John McCallister, formerly UUP and NI21 stood as an Independent last year so his votes are likely to go mostly to UUP. Id expect UUP to poll 4,700
DUP boosted by a lower profile TUV candidate….5,700
Clarke will not poll well but Brown (Alliance) was the surprise last year but I cant see more votes this time ….2,000
The Green candidate is seemingly based in South Belfast….900 votes.
Browne and the Green should mostly transfer to SDLP….1,200 would likely be enough to bring both SDLP candidates thru.
TUV will transfer mostly to DUP …..Wells should make it.
SF should beat UUP for final seat.
SDLP 2. SF 2. DUP 1.