Monday, 9 May 2011

My new MLAs -how they got there and what it means #ndo11 #ae11

I was sitting around near the North Down Alliance team, augmented by Brian Wilson and the DUP's Peter Weir as they accumulated their tallies on Friday morning after verification.

Even then it was clear that Peter along with his party colleagues Alex Easton and Gordon Dunne were going to get elected. Stephen Farry of the Alliance also looked safe it was a matter of where the other two seats would go. The UUP were looking like they didn't have a full quota (4015 is turned out) between them, the two independent Alans, McFarland, the former UUP MLA looking to be returned now he was independent, and Chambers. Or would the Alliance manage to get a second in with Anne Wilson or would the Green's manage to replace her husband with Steven Agnew.

It was all tense stuff. The main concern was how the DUP transfers would go. A lot of DUP papers appeared to have just 1,2,3 and no further preference but others did transfer. The other thing was how would the independent Unionist votes transfer and most worryingly for the UUP would they still be in the race if one of the independents got eliminated.

The breakdown of the results was:

DUP 3 candidates 3.1 quotas
Alliance 2 candidates 1.3 quotas
UUP 2 candidates 0.7 quotas
Green 1candidate 0.55 quotas
Alan McFarland 0.46 quotas
Alan Chambers 0.44 quotas

Others 3 candidates (SDLP, UKIP, Sinn Féin) 0.42 quotas

It was going to be tight. Agnew was just 107 first preferences ahead of Anne Wilson to come 5th. But that once the DUP managed to get there three in on one on the first round and the other two on the allocation of Easton's surplus in the second round it was the unionist block of 1.6 quotas that made it unlikely that both Wilson and Agnew would make it. So although it was unclead which unionist made it as well there was a fight on for the sixth seat between the Alliance and Greens and it was going to be tight. Problem for me now was that it looked like my top three preferences were going to only secure two seats.

When both the Alans were eliminated it pushed Leslie Cree over the quota securing the UUP one seat and then it was down to his surplus. The transfer of that ended up giving Agnew the edge maintaining a Green representative at Stormont.

However, it does throw up interesting permitations for the Executive. The UUP are on 16 seats they secured Cree's seat from 9th place in the first preferences. Though you are not going to get me suddenly defending First Past the post that saw DUP 1,2,3, Alliance 4 and 6 with Greens 5. If Anne Wilson had of won her seat that would have been 9 Alliance. Therefore under D'Hondt the second UUP seat (the final seat to be allocated*). Eight the half of the UUP seats (having already secured one minister) will be equal to the 8 seats held by the Alliance. The tie break is votes again divided as by D'Hondt. There the UUP's 87, 531 is divided by 2 making 43,765 again less than the Alliance's 50,875, therefore earning David Ford another seat.

The UUP are however flirting with David McClarty the former deputy speaker and member of their party who stood as an independent after failing to be selected in East Londonderry. He managed to get 73 first preferences more than the two UUP candidates and get re-elected where either of them failed to do. But this is a case of where the people did have a option of voting for an official party candidate and didn't do so. What would have happened in North Down if instead of Cree getting in another former UUP MLA Alan McFarland had got elected, would it then have been them that they were courting. Or what if Wilson and McFarland had got in instead of Cree and Agnew this would all have just been a series of what ifs in the final rounds of counting in Newtownards on Saturday that would have been eventually forgotten.

* The order will be DUP, Sinn Féin, DUP, UUP, SF, SDLP, DUP, SF, DUP, Alliance

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