Stormont election competition

Northern Ireland elections guru Nicholas Whyte has launched his predictions competition for the assembly elections due on 7 March. Some of the early predictions have been posted on his site and may prove a useful guide to the outcome.

This could be a tricky election to call because of the political shifts by the DUP and Sinn Fein, which have provoked anti-agreement challenges from Bob McCartney’s UKUP and a number of independent republicans. (One example of the latter is Gerry McGeough who has sent us details of his new campaign blog.)

On the unionist side, the trend in recent elections has been for the DUP to gain at the expense of the Ulster Unionists. I expect that trend to continue although it will be interesting to see if the DUP loses any anti-agreement votes over the prospect of power-sharing.

On the nationalist side, a similar trend in favour of Sinn Fein has shown signs of slowing in recent years, perhaps in the wake of the Northern Bank/Robert McCartney episodes in 2005. Although SF will hope to resume its growth ahead of this year’s elections in the Republic, there aren’t that many obvious targets out there this time, and one seat, Alex Maskey’s in South Belfast, could even be vulnerable. Nevertheless, I expect Sinn Fein to emerge with net gains as well.

Blogger Sammy Morse has some excellent profiles of the North’s 18 constituencies and the coverage at Nuzhound and Slugger is indispensable as ever.






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