Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Never in the history of Northern Irish politics...Part 2

...have the Alliance votes transferred so poorly to unionist candidates.

In 1979 the Alliance candidate was eliminated after the election of John Hume SDLP elected after stage 3 and all the last Independent nationalist Bernadette McAliskey who was eliminated at stage 4 so we have no idea how else the Alliance vote would have transferred.

In 1984 Alliance were eliminated along with UPUP candidate Jim Kilfedder but the only parties left after their elimination were SDLP and Sinn Fein so it is impossible again to guage the split in preference.

In 1989 we didn't get to the elimination stage and with DUP and SDLP elected on stage one the Paisley surplus was sufficient to elect Jim Nicholson UUP. The same thing happened in 1994.

In 1999 there was an option as to where the Alliance vote may have transferred to. At the time of elimination Sean Neeson had 14,391 votes. But he was eliminated as the same time as the PUP, UKUP and Natural Law candidates. Jim Nicholson UUP and Mitchell McLaughlin Sinn Féin were both left. But as only 1709 went to Sinn Féin and even if all of these had been from Neeson was only 11.87% of his vote.Over 50% of the Alliance vote that would have transferred therefore would have gone UUP assuming that 33% was non transferable.

In 2004 there was no Alliance candidate as they along with the Workers Party, Conservative and Labour parties were backing John Gilliland the outgoing President of the Ulster Farmers' Union.

To complicate matters in 2009 once again the Alliance were eliminated at the same time as another party. This time it was the Greens. Combined they transferred 38.44% to the SDLP but 43.78% to UCUNF, DUP and TUV unionist candidates. The Alliance had the bigger share of those transfers with 62.88% of the combined total that was reallocated.

That leads to this week, Anna Lo was eliminated by herself in stage 6. 44.58% of her vote went to the SDLP with UUP, DUP and TUV still in play. The unionists got only 21.25% of her vote.

Hypothesis 1

Taking this back to 2004 it would have equated to the SDLP getting 11,903 votes off Alliance of the 16,325, but would have left 23,012 votes to go of which 15,764 would have been a totally transferable Green vote. For the sake of argument let's assume that they did all transfer that leaves 4,422 Green votes left to fill up the SDLP vote and 11, 342 going to unionism. That would still result in 7,248 Alliance votes that could go unionist but even that is 27.15% of the Alliance transfers.

Clearly there would not have been 100% transferable votes from the Greens. Therefore there has to be an even bigger reduction in the proportion of Alliance votes than the mere 6% that this hypothetical scenario shows.

Hypothesis 1b

Lets assume that a universal 17.77% of non transferables for both parties (7,548 of the 42,463 combined was actually non transferable) of those Green votes were non-transferable, this would come off the resultant unionist vote. It would mean 8540 of their votes go to unionism, leaving 10,050 of Alliances vote or 37.64% heading to unionists.

Hypothesis 2

The Green Party candidate Ross Brown was eliminated at stage 4 along with NI21's Tina McKenzie. Their combined vote of 21900.53 at the time of elimination saw 8661.10 going to Alliance to we discount that  to leave 13,239.43.

Of that 3107 (23.46%) went nationalist and 5809 went unionist (43.87%)

Applying that to their 2009 vote 3,699 votes went nationalist and 6,916 unionist.

The impact this would have on 2009 would be that 12,626 (47.29%) Alliance votes were nationalist and 11,674 (43.62%) unionist at a 91% transferability rate.

As it is I suspect that the Green vote would have had a higher proportion of nationalists to NI21 which means that the proportion of Alliance votes going Unionist would actually have been higher in 2009.

The Alliance has for a while not transferred toward DUP in large numbers and as a by product TUV. But has been relatively happy to go UUP. However, this time that has not been the case.

The reasons are pretty clear. The outright attack on Naomi Long even before the vote in Belfast City Council on flag and the lack of timely or outright condemnation of the attack on Alliance party office or elected reps homes that resulted from the Unionists. There is also the issues of equality on which the UUP have been as intolerant as DUP but the SDLP and Sinn Féin more liberal. This could be borne out by those who campaigned for equal marriage saying if your not prepared to vote for us and ours you'll not get our vote.

As I also said there was 17.8% non transferable from Alliance and Greens in 2009, but 33% non transferable on this occasion. So even those that would not transfer to SDLP have not transferred to unionism.

Hardline unionism may well benefit them in FPTP Westminster elections (providing they work on the pacts) but it is damaging the unionists on getting transfers from Alliance in other elections in Northern Ireland.

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