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 …North Antrim
May 2016: Quota: 5857
DUP: (3 seats) 17655
TUV: (1 seat) 7354
Sinn Féin (1 seat) 5297
UUP (1 seat) 4406
Others: SDLP 3093, Alliance 1318, TUV 1027, UKIP 1072, Green 513, Labour 243, Tory 92.
DUP: Mervyn Storey, Paul Frew, Philip Logan.
TUV: Jim Allister, Timothy Gaston.
Allister is outgoing.
Sinn Féin: Philip McGuigan.
UUP: Robin Swann
SDLP: Connor Duncan.
Stood last year.
Alliance: Patricia O’Lynn
Green: Mark Bailey
Independent: Mark Digney.
Independent: Adam McBride.
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
DUP look short of three quotas. Ex-MLA David McIlveen has declared support for Robin Swann but it is unlikely to make much of an impact. Jim Allister is safe on a quota. UUP will be short of a quota but the TUV, DUP and some Alliance transfers should be enough to bring Robin Swann in.
The Nationalist seat? Well Sinn Féin has been damaged by the Dáithí McKay “resignation” and the co-option of Philip McGuigan. One of their ex-councillors is standing as an Independent.
Sinn Féins vote will drop.
SDLP will rise…Connor Duncan is a good candidate… but the gap will not narrow sufficiently.
The fifth seat will go to Sinn Féin.
DUP 2. TUV 1. UUP 1. Sinn Féin 1.