Current Affairs

Northern Assembly Election Results 2017, A Win For Progressive Nationalism

The final results from Thursday’s vote for the regional assembly in the north-east of the country has ushered in a new political era for the United Kingdom’s legacy colony on the island of Ireland. Regardless of what future arrangements are made for local government in the Six Counties the Irish nationalist community can no longer be ignored, disdained or denied. The conventional wisdom of the pro-union press, that political nationalism and republicanism was dormant or in retreat, has been overturned. As in Scotland or in other contested territories, the minority population has been given a pointed reminder of the power of the ballot box. I suspect that the nationalist vote will likely grow over the next decade if the unprecedented strength of the main pro-unity parties yields the dividends people want to see from this election.

As for the vote itself, at 64.8% it was the highest turnout since the first election to the northern assembly in 1998, following its establishment under the Good Friday Agreement. With ninety seats up for grabs this time around (a statutory reduction from 108) the results were

  • 28 – Democratic Unionist Party
  • 27 – Sinn Féin
  • 12 – Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • 10 – Ulster Unionist Party
  • 8 – Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
  • 2 – Green Party
  • 1 – People Before Profit Alliance
  • 1 – Traditional Unionist Voice
  • 1 – Independent unionist

In terms of official political designations, nationalist or unionist, that yields;

  • 40 – Unionist
  • 39 – Nationalist
  • 11 – Other

However those numbers are somewhat deceptive. The “Other” description includes parties with support from both communities but that support is largely partisan in nature. For instance the PBPA is a nationalist-sympathetic all-Ireland party while the APNI is a unionist-leaning Six County one. The Green Party is also all-Ireland, though of late its local branch has pursued a more regionalist or partitionist line. So the eleven seats outside the two main designations contain considerable fudge and they should be regarded as mostly liberal pro-union in nature.

While one must recognise that the representatives of northern nationalism do not yet enjoy a plurality in the regional assembly at Stormont, the parties are heading in that direction. A figure of forty-five seats or Members of the Local Assembly is certainly achievable on the numbers seen from some of the constituency counts in the north-east of the country, possibly within the next few years. Overall, as I said previously, a good day for equality and freedom, and a damned good day for Ireland.

23 comments on “Northern Assembly Election Results 2017, A Win For Progressive Nationalism

  1. Graham Ennis

    Well, this is, as they said in germany in 1945: “Das Untergang”, the downfall. The next election is going to be critical, and it may come sooner than we expect, as I imagine that the headbanger unionists and fringes will absolutely be enraged at what has happened. They will wriggle, scream, and agitate, but the arithmetic is there. So I think forming a government is going to be beyond them, unless they give in on SF having the first ministership, and that they cannot do. So another election, shortly, I think. Then an SF victory. My god, this has taken 900 years, but we are on the very edge of a new dawn. Absolutely critical, now that Fringe Republican groups hold their fire, (Literally) and do nothing to upset the process. (which is why we shall see some sort of false flag operation by British intelligence to wreck the result.).


  2. Sharon Douglas

    I wish I were as optimistic as you on this, Séamas.


  3. Plus solid rejection of NI Brexit forces: 59:31? Clearer than ever there is NO mandate to restore the hard border. How many DUPers really want customs checks back?


    • In the border counties? Quite a few I fear. There are many DUP backwoodsmen who resent the soft border – or soft reunification – of the last two decades and who would not be adverse to seeing checkpoints and a solid frontier. They would see in a Trumpian sense of “security” and “comfort, and keeping out the “other” (while keeping down the local “other).


  4. Well, from over the water I just hope that May, who has just nicely wound up the Scots, becomes one more British leader to come to grief over The Irish Problem 😉

    Well done folks, may the road rise for you!


  5. See the DUP kicking up and they would prefer direct rule if they can not call the shots, interesting none the less, wonder how Enda’s pro Brit party will react,


  6. Jack
    Apologies. Hit the wrong button.

    Interesting times all round on these islands.

    Scots to go from Britannia soon. Ireland on the cusp of reunification.

    May our roads rise together to paraphrase Marconatrix above.



    • It’s just as likely the EU will break up, have you heard its leaders recently, they’re obviously extremely worried, If Le Pen wins in France, it’s curtains for them and their project. The Scots and the N Irish won’t be going anywhere then but even if the EU manages to survive, there’s little indication the Scottish will vote to leave the U.K. anyway.


      • I can’t see the EU falling part, even if Le Pen had an unlikely victory in France. The country may be increasingly cautious about the EU but it remains dedicated to its existence in some form. There is no UKIP equivalent and even Front National is only halfheartedly anti-EU.


  7. At times like these I think of the late great Horseman of Ulsters Doomed fame. He saw the writing was on the wall for Unionism long before anybody else.


    • Indeed he did. Hopefully his predictions will be right. The last few years were worrying times. Maybe just a statistical blip rather than a trend?


  8. I’m not sure about this. I think the core support for Sinn Féin isn’t as strong as you think. People voted to give Arlene a bloody nose. I don’t think it was a spontaneous outpouring of love for the SF leadership. The difference is important. They can’t afford to take our support for granted. Although the demographics are certainly working in SF’s favour, if the DUP gets a leader who isn’t a cartoon Orange-Lil-style bigot, the apathy and disinterest could well set in again. Níl mé ach a rá …


    • True, but you have to consider the SDLP vote as well. SF took seats at the SDLP’s expense but the SDLP did it at the expense of the UUP and others. The SDLP has sometimes proved to be an electoral harbinger of change in contested constituencies or areas, where there is a move from majority unionist to majority nationalist. In some ways the party has proved more of a cutting edge for nationalism than SF. The latter tends to cluster where majority nationalist support already exists. It then eats into the SDLP base (Belfast, Derry, Down, etc.) to emerge as the victor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d argue the point with you but I’m too apathetic … Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased to see the result. I just wish I had greater conviction that the shinners really deserved it …


  9. I have a private bet on with a friend since 2006. Reunification of some sort by 2021. It was looking bad for a while. Outside chance I might win yet 😉


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