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 …Mid Ulster
May 2016: Quota: 5822
Sinn Féin (3 seats) 19015
DUP (1 seat) 7393
SDLP (1 seat) 6209
UUP (1 seat) 4862
Others: TUV 1877, Alliance 471, Green 349, Workers Party 316, UKIP 256.
Sinn Féin: Michelle O’Neill, Ian Milne, Linda Dillon.
DUP: Keith Buchanan
SDLP: Patsy McGlone.
UUP: Sandra Overend
TUV: Hannah Loughrin.
Stood last year
Alliance: Fay Watson
Green: Stefan Taylor
Workers Party: Hugh Scullion.
Stood last year.
Independent: Hugh McCloy.
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 most 42,000 votes and a quota of 7,000.
I expect Sinn Féin to slip back to 18,500 which means two safe seats.
SDLP will hold steady. If Hugh McCloy, a hospital campaigner takes some first preference votes, Patsy McGlone can rely on his transfers plus most Green and Alliance.
DUP have enough first preference votes to get over the line. TUV voters will realise there is the potential to lose a unionist seat and wont waste their vote.
UUP have maybe 5,000 votes and Sinn Féin slightly less than that in surplus.
There looks like more extra unionist votes.
Sinn Féin 2. DUP 1. SDLP 1. UUP 1.