Constituency Profile: South Belfast
In what is arguably one of the most up in the air constituencies, no fewer than four parties fancy their chances in South Belfast.
The DUP is pushing hard to win the seat back for unionism with reports that ex-leader Peter Robinson has come out of retirement to help his former special adviser Emma Little Pengelly triumph, seemingly undaunted by failed efforts to secure a unionist pact.
But the SDLP thinks it can win South Belfast again with Alasdair McDonnell running, despite again a pact collapsing — this time an “anti-Brexit” deal.
Sinn Fein is also confident that in a first-past-the-post context its standard bearer Mairtin O Muilleoir can emerge victorious following the recent Assembly election where he significantly increased his party’s vote.
And the Alliance Party thinks it has a chance of coming up through the middle in what is one of its strongest constituencies, with Paula Bradshaw insisting she is a strong contender.
It looks likely to all come down to just a handful of votes in the former unionist citadel, where the UUP’s Rev Martin Smyth held the seat for 22 years before the SDLP won it in 2005.
The DUP was the largest party in the constituency in the Assembly election (with a 20% share of the vote) and believes a good cross-section of the UUP vote will heed its unionism rallying call in the aftermath of Sinn Fein’s Stormont advances.
Yet South Belfast is likely to be unpredictable, with a strong middle-class population in economic terms, where 37% of working age adults are engaged in professional or managerial occupations.
Clare Bailey, Green Party
Paula Bradshaw, Alliance
Michael Henderson, UUP
Emma Little Pengelly, DUP
Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP
Mairtin O’Muilleoir, Sinn Fein
Clare Salier, Conservatives