Sunday, 10 May 2015

Election analysis 2015: part 3, my thoughts on what happened in Northern Ireland

Over to what happened in Northern Ireland, party-by-party:

Democratic Unionist Party:

The DUP, who were hoping to go into coalition with the Conservatives until they discovered the Conservatives had gained a majority, easily retained Belfast North (by persuading the UUP to back them), and snatched back Belfast East despite the best efforts of Naomi Long, also because the UUP and TUV did not stand. However, long time DUP MP William McCrea narrowly lost South Antrim to the UUP's Danny Kinahan, maybe due to the fact the UUP is not as extreme as the DUP in some respects. Given the small Conservative majority, will the DUP MPs end up supporting them when it comes to the vote in Parliament anyway?

Ulster Unionist Party:

The Ulster Unionists are back in town-they gained 2 seats, one from the DUP and Fermanagh & South Tyrone from Sinn Fein by just 530 votes, due to a unionist pact which almost worked in 2010. However, they failed to gain Newry & Armagh despite the DUP standing down in their favour, or the three-way marginal of Upper Bann, and they fell sharply in Belfast South; UKIP's presence in Northern Ireland also split their vote in some cases. The fact that the NI Conservatives are no longer backing them did not make much difference, though.

Alliance Party:

Their hopes turned to disappointment-Naomi Long lost Belfast East despite increasing her vote share, and even though all Alliance candidates increased their vote share and lost fewer deposits they were not in a position to gain any other seats (somewhat close in Belfast South, however, despite not having Anna Lo as their candidate this time). They have probably depressed the UUP vote in some cases, however.

Sinn Fein:

They tried, but the unionists were determined to stop them-and through pacts, the unionists managed to, by winning Fermanagh & South Tyrone from them and stopping them from winning the key marginal seat of Belfast North. The biggest swing against them was in their safest seat, Belfast West, where socialist campaigner Gerry Carroll finished second to Paul Maskey. They made little progress in other seats, either, especially Foyle and South Down (held by the SDLP).

Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP):

This election was a poor one for the SDLP all around. Even though they did not lose any seats, Alasdair McDonnell only narrowly held onto Belfast South with 24.5% of the vote-the very first time any MP in the UK has won a seat with less than 25% of the vote. In almost all seats in Northern Ireland, they performed worse than before, and ex-Fine Gael councillor Mary Muldoon polled the lowest ever vote for the SDLP in Belfast East-127 votes (0.3%).

Other parties:

UKIP did surprisingly well in Northern Ireland, retaining most of their deposits despite splitting the unionist vote. The Green Party of Northern Ireland had their best result ever, saving two deposits out of five-pity they did not stand in South Down or Strangford as they did in 2010, because they would have likely saved their deposit in South Down at least. The Northern Ireland Conservatives simply wasted their time and money, as they only saved their deposit in Strangford and polled as low as 34 votes in Belfast West (not very surprising). The TUV fell back considerably, and only saved their deposit in North Antrim (there was a swing from them to the DUP even in that instance). No independent candidate came close to saving their deposit, although Susan-Anne White, despite her notoriously extremist views, somehow managed as many as 166 votes in West Tyrone.

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