Current Affairs Politics

Stormont Elections: 42% Pro-Union, 41% Pro-Unity, 16% Other

A lot of partisan views have been expressed on the results of last week’s regional elections in the north of Ireland. And principally by commentators in the United Kingdom or sympathetic to the UK (including the usual suspects here) attacking and downplaying the vote for Sinn Féin and/or northern nationalist parties in general while defending and hailing the vote for the Democratic Unionist Party and/or unionist parties in general. However, despite all the obfuscation, it is clear that there is more than mere symbolism in the possibility of a member of what was the minority community in the north-east of the country leading its regional government, with SF’s Michelle O’Neill likely to be chosen as the new First Minister. If the DUP agrees.

If fact, the electoral landscape of the Six Counties has now divided itself into three somewhat fluid constitutional blocs: pro-union, pro-unity and pro-neutral. That division is even starker in the polling percentages, with a rough 42.0%-42.1% pro-union, 41.6%-41.7% pro-unity and 16.2%-16.3% pro-neutral outcome on first preference votes (depending on how you count them). In all likelihood, the gap between pro-union and pro-unity voters in the north is around 5000 votes. Which is astonishing for a territory that, as the BBC noted for its viewers in Britain, was purposefully carved off by the UK from the rest of island to create a politico-military redoubt with an inbuilt and supposedly perpetual unionist majority.

Except, as we now know, the Northern Pale is no more, and the unionist and nationalist communities, broadly defined, are now effectively equal in numbers and influence.

But what of the pro-neutral bloc, the constitutionally ambiguous collective of voters who support the Alliance Party, the Green Party and others? Even here, the triad of national preferences is visible, with polling by Lucid Talk indicating that Alliance voters, for instance, split 31% pro-union, 33% pro-unity and 36% unsure – but still likely to vote when a referendum on ending partition is held.

It seems that the don’t-ask/don’t-tell bloc is slightly more disposed towards the pro-unity argument than not. And with a significant number of second-preference votes floating between SF and AP supporters at the recent elections, the foundations for a future “Yes” campaign are looking not just deep, but also increasingly wide.

29 comments on “Stormont Elections: 42% Pro-Union, 41% Pro-Unity, 16% Other

  1. Nice to see you back. The DUP seem to think they can just ignore this vote. They are sore losers .Calling themselves Democratic is the biggest joke out only nobody is laughing at them. They have fired the starting gun on future Irish Unity. The future belongs to the middle who are young and ready for radical change. Roll on the Census results.

    Liked by 3 people

    • A quick visit! 🤓 And I agree. It was bad enough the Dupers threatening to block the FM vote, now they’re threatening the assembly full stop. For the DUP, and perhaps political unionism as a whole, it’s death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts!


  2. Imagine someone like Arlene Foster lecturing us on the economics of a United Ireland. My lord has that woman no self awareness the giant hole she left in public finances with her Cash for Ash scheme. Really the mind boggles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, the adjacent unionist argument essentially admitting that the north is an economic slum almost wholly dependant on the UK for subvention in one form or another is a peculiar way of praising the benefits of the “union”. Stockholm syndrome on a massive scale.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on rebelbreeze and commented:


  4. Fáilte thar nais. Reblogged on Rebel Breeze (without necessarily agreeing with conclusion)


  5. Yeah English Tories telling us what SF voters in the North really think I think I have heard it all now! Of course one English Tory can take credit for her contribution to the rise and rise of SF but Maggie Thatcher is no longer with us. From 10% to almost 30% of the vote in the North. And into Government in the South come the Next Irish General Election.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Edwin Poots threatening multiple elections until the DUP get the result they want. Have the DUP completely lost the plot. Honest to God this is absolutely nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. If it’s an end of year or early next year election the DUP are crazy to bank on clawing back all those TUV votes to pass out SF again. When the more likely outcome is another increase in the SF vote alongside the AP. Though where that would leave the SDLP and UUP. The former would be just gutted of votes.


  7. Yes that’s the crazy thing about it Edwin admits himself the DUP will probably lose votes in any future elections. He wants to commit electoral suicide to show how opposed he is to a Northern Ireland Protocol that is actually boosting the Local economy. The DUP could end up doing more damage to the local economy than the IRA managed to do in 30 years of political conflict.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Peter Punt is to blame of course for inviting Jim Allister back into the DUP fold in order to replace Papa Doc as DUP MEP. That worked out well for the DUP


  9. Blade Sprinter

    This cycle’s campaign has neatly isolated pro-EU Unionists and pushed them into the Alliance. In 7 Nationalist constituencies where an Alliance candidate was eliminated, their transfer rates on to Nationalist candidates were in the 80%s. Alliance may contain all the pro-EU Unionists, but that 16% also contains a lot of Nationalist votes. Alliance is not the Unionist party it was before this election.

    The 30% DUP/TUV Brexiteer Unionism are already embarked upon a strategy that will further alienate this group of EUnionists. On a mission to destroy the Protocol and willing pawns in the Truss/Johnson leadership. Destroying the Protocol converts those Alliance EUnionists to EUnited Irelanders and creates a majority for re-unification.

    Before COVID the NHS was the big stumbling block to re-unification, this morning’s papers have NI NHS in crisis, on the verge of collapse and no sign of the executive returning to address it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes a lot of sense. Where do pro-EU Unionists go? The UUP is still too equivocal. That’s amazing re the transfer rates from Alliance. And as you say it’s the not the party it was, not least with people from nationalist backgrounds being elected for it. Doesn’t make it nationalist but it does offer a chance for some broader coalitions in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that O’Neill’s use of the term “Northern Ireland” at the assembly meeting during the week was hugely indicative of SF’s future electoral strategy.

        1) Consolidate the core republican primary vote without alienating it (no easy task, but doable).

        2) Attract/retain new republican-lite liberal/progressive primary voters (the 40% or so of 18-25s who lean SF in the polling).

        3) Attract more traditional/intergenerational nationalist votes from the SDLP, principally younger voters or those who like to be on the “winning” side when it comes to their votes, with a focus on primary votes and transfers depending on the election type.

        4) Woo Alliance and Green Party voters, initially for SF transfers, then the primary votes down the line for both Stormont and Westminster.

        To get the AP votes, SF will – and are – partly using the same tactics they employed with the SDLP. Over the years SF became a sort of SDLP 2.0. Making the 1.0 iteration irrelevant. The AP will face a similar situation as SF starts adopting some of its branding or selling points and pushes it to AP voters from or with a nationalist, republican, non-aligned, liberal or progressive background or political inclination.


        • Blade Sprinter


          I think your analysis is on the nose. It’s how SF ran their most recent campaign, dropping the constitutional angle almost entirely. It is also why there is a consistent beating of the “SF is tainted by their connection to PIRA TERRORRISSMMMMMS!!!” in the media. The last remaining tool with which to blunt SF’s continued rise. One whose power is waning.

          I think the two most interesting questions right now are 1) How far are the DUP going to push their objection to the Protocol? and 2) Will the Tory leadership struggle back Unionism into a trade war with the EU?

          The next year is going to be quite interesting for NI and there’s a risk events may take on a life of their own.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The battle of the stats and its relevance to a border poll is the next big thing…


            • Blade Sprinter

              Donaghy has a Unionist bias/blindspot that shows up in his data. For example in the link you provided he over counts Independent Unionists by 2,000, under counts Ind Nationalists by 2,500 and leaves out a further 13k other misc Nationalist votes (including PBP). Yet includes every single possible Unionist vote. His analysis almost always shades the data in favour of Unionism, he’s been like this since he first surfaced on slugger a decade or more ago.

              I have the numbers at 363k Unionist, 361k Nationalist and 138k Other. Arguing the toss of who is the plurality is less relevant now. The fact it’s a debate is the leading indicator that NI is finished. We are at 40/40/20, a permanent tipping point and understanding the Others is the key to understanding the trajectory of Northern Ireland.

              With Richmond’s intervention last night, I’d say we are in the 5 year slide to a border poll.

              Liked by 1 person

      • Blade Sprinter

        It’s a challenging opportunity for Alliance and reminds me of Labour’s Spring Tide election of 1992. AP needs Stormont up and running to get that chance. While the DUP are embracing a hardline position that the NI Protocol has to go before they will join restart Stormont.

        Even then it will be an interesting threading of the needle to keep the existing voterbase on board and retain the new Nationalist transfers.

        You say broader coalitions, I say opportunity for courtship 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Trump lawyer advised UK government to ditch Northern Ireland Protocol

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Michelle has also used the word Ulster which is also unusual for a Republican. Of course anything SF do Unionists will oppose it. Maybe Unionists will start now to refer to the Occupied Six Counties of course they will mean it’s Occupied by the EU not the Brits. Language is important in Irish politics but it is not as important as it once was. It used to be a matter of life or death. What a difference being in charge makes.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Considering Northern Ireland was set up
    to ensure a Unionist majority forever. Now we have a Republican majority something that was never meant to happen I think anything is now possible. The real fun will happen when SF win power in the South and SF ministers North and South start working together to bring the two areas closer together. Those meetings will be the real start of bringing this Island closer to being one political unit. I also would not rule out Boris being forced to resign as Prime Minister over PartyGate. And his replacement by someone reasonable on repairing the damage on the EU.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nearly a majority Kwasi yet the majority voted for Pro-Protocol parties in the North.


  14. Are the UK government really going to start a Trade War with the EU to keep the DUP happy? It is absolutely bonkers that the UK is going to seriously damage its own already fragile Economy in order to appease the UVF drug dealers and pimps. The EU will have the UK for breakfast. Total Tory madness.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. According to the Daily Express Boris Johnson is considering replacing Brandon Lewis as Secretary of State with his pal Conor Burns. According to the Daily Express Brandon Lewis has come under the influence of Nationalist Civil Servants in the Northern Ireland Office.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Like

  17. It’s nice to see Free State politicians wake up to what Boris and his DUP pals are up to and start talking about a border poll. The only real obstacle to a United Ireland is the NHS and it is on its last legs I don’t think the DUP abstaining from Stormont is going to help matters. The DUP seems determined to prove Northern Ireland can’t work something Nationalists have been saying for decades. They could end up pushing those agnostic on the Union right into the United Ireland camp. I saw Patrick Kielty on the Peston TV programme call out a Tory politician over a lie he told about the Northern Ireland Protocol last night. I only wish journalists especially those working for the BBC would do the same. Tories are allowed to tell lies to the public unchallenged.


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