Thursday, March 08, 2007

Election afternoon tea-break thoughts

While Brian Rowan may have high profile and created a bit of a buzz in Holywood, his profile during the election campaign was surprisingly low outside North Down.

An ex-BBC reporter, and frequent contributor to the Belfast Telegraph, didn't he have a distinctive voice to be heard?

Given the broadcasters' rules of fairness, he was too small a fry to get significant TV coverage. But there didn't even seem to be any human interest stories in the NI press?

Some key ponderings:

* Will Alliance be able to hold Seamus Close's old seat in Lagan Valley? Or will Trevor Lunn lose out to the more polarised voting behaviour now that Close's personal impact has gone?

* Will Dawn Purvis recapture David Ervine's seat for the PUP in East Belfast? And what will be the split between the DUP and UUP in this a typical constsituency? (Will it be one of the few places were UUP > DUP?)


John Self said...

I think it's unlikely that the UUP vote will exceed the DUP vote in East Belfast. A lot of moderate unionists just vote Alliance I think.

What's interesting (well, a bit interesting) is to look back at the Westminster election results for East Belfast. In 1979, Peter Robinson took the seat for the first time for the DUP, with about 15,000 votes. UUP and Alliance were on 14,000 and 13,000 respectively, so even a tiny amount of tactical voting would have lost the DUP the seat.

So far so clear. What's curious is that since then, Robinson's vote has stayed more or less steady at 15,000 to 16,000. But the Alliance and UUP vote has collapsed, so that in the last few elections, their combined votes just about exceed the DUP vote, so it would be almost impossible to dislodge Robinson (if one sought such an outcome). What happened in between?

John Self said...

Hm, that was me above - not sure why it came out as john rather than john self...

John Self said...

...And I see from this that the Alliance Party's first preference votes are up almost 10% in East Belfast. Mostly, it seems, at the expense of the Ulster Unionists.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

To address my first bullet point, Lunn has taken the fourth seat in Lagan Valley, leaving three level-pegging DUP candidates to fight it out for the last two seats!

Purvis looks safe in East Belfast, though I was wrong in the other aspect - DUP trounced UUP in first preference votes.

John Self said...

And Bob McCartney has failed in all his six constituencies: including the seat he held in North Down. Perhaps the electorate felt that his desire to spread himself thinly and hedge his bets displayed just a little bit of contempt for them?

And congratulations to Anna Lo, who has won the Alliance Party's first assembly seat in South Belfast, and becomes the first Chinese member not only of the Assembly but of any parliament in the UK.