The Progressive Unionist Party vote was noticeably up here and in Belfast East, was this protest voting against the DUP or are they getting stronger? Could they challenge in either seat at the next election? nitory
I'm not the most objective person to ask about the PUP (plus I wrote over 10,000 words to be completely off the ball on this election!), but the East Belfast vote was likely up due to Sammy Douglas' retirement, who was very active doing constituency work in loyalist areas which are the PUP's base, some votes going to the PUP due to it despite Douglas' son was the third candidate too . In North Belfast improvement likely due to Julie-Anne Corr being a better candidate than Billy Hutchinson, she's on the useful idiot wing of the party and could distinguish herself from other the other unionists standing on her social liberal views. Whether they can build on this result, I doubt it, the East Belfast seat was won by media darlings David Ervine and Dawn Purvis, who had some appeal to the middle classes along with their loyalist base. Kyle isn't charismatic and media friendly and even if he was, the party aren't getting many invites to appear on TV. The party's ceiling is much too low to have a chance in a five seater and boundary changes are not favourable.
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. So all else being equal who would you rate as the favourite for the new Belfast South East Westminster constituency if it goes through as planned?
From an outsiders perspective it seems like more fertile territory for the Alliance if there is more of a nationalist and green vote to be squeezed?
Yes, that's correct. Even just taking the Dundonald wards out of the current East Belfast would have been enough for Alliance to win in 2015. Dundonald is a DUP fortress, those 5 wards in the 2014 council election were 48% DUP, 12% Alliance, looking at the other parties and adding in a personal vote for Long, she would have been losing 2:1 to the DUP. The addition of the wards from South Belfast increase the Catholic population by 9% to 21% on 2010 census figures, obviously will be higher in 2020. Will Long run for the Westminster seat again? Don't think so, She would be much more anonymous leading the party from Westminster than Stormont (assuming she is still the leader of course...), Another candidate would be less of a cert but favoured. The SDLP and Sinn Fein have votes in the wards moved from the south and may start campaigning for votes in the East. Hanna would go into Belfast SW though and it could go either way with Ó Muilleoir, he may dip his toes in the 2020 race to see gauge if a seat is viable.
Thanks again. As someone who lived in Belfast for a while I've enjoyed reading your dispassionate yet informed coverage of these elections.
Now that she's an MEP, does Naomi Long have to give up her seat?
If she does give up her seat (by requirement or by choice), and her replacement just so happens to stand down after the end of Long's MEP tenure, would she be eligible to be nominated as her replacement's replacement?