Belfast Telegraph

Tele's snap poll shows voters are prepared to switch sides

By David Young

More than half the people who responded to a Belfast Telegraph snap online poll yesterday said they were prepared to vote for a political party that did not have its roots in their traditional community.

It's a message that may give some comfort to politicians who have been calling for a tactical cross-community approach to voting in the forthcoming Assembly election.

Today's Belfast Telegraph online poll asked readers: 'Would you vote for a party from a different community to your own?'

When the online survey closed last night, almost 500 readers had registered their preference.

A total of 481 votes were cast, with 55% voting yes and 45% voting no.

Belfast Telegraph online readers' independent-minded attitudes is in contrast to this week's results from a major survey by the UK Electoral Reform Society, which found that - nearly 20 years after the Belfast Agreement - just 4% of Catholics were prepared to vote for a unionist party, and 2% of Protestants would give their vote to a nationalist party.

The Electoral Reform Society study was released just days after UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he was intending to give his second-preference vote to the SDLP.

The Electoral Reform Society surveyed 4,000 people after the 2016 election, and its starkly polarised results highlight the continued deep political cleavage within Northern Ireland over the national identities and aspirations of its residents.

Meanwhile, yesterday SDLP leader Colum Eastwood pulled out of a high-profile hustings event hosted by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. It's believed pressing family reasons prompted the SDLP leader's decision, which came a day after he appeared in a TV debate involving the party leaders.

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