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DUP could be biggest loser in the shake-up of boundaries

By Liam Clarke

The DUP could lose five Stormont seats if proposed new electoral boundaries are applied in time for the 2015 General Election, an expert has predicted.

But Nicholas Whyte, of the Northern Ireland Elections website, said it would remain the largest party.

Mr Whyte has projected the voting patterns in the recent Westminster, Assembly and local council elections onto the 16 proposed new constituency boundaries.

Under the new proposals, there would be 96 Stormont seats instead of the present 108.

Mr Whyte estimates that the DUP would emerge with 33 MLAs (down five), Sinn Fein would get 27 (down two), the UUP 14 seats (down two), the SDLP 13 (down one), and Alliance seven (down one). The Greens and TUV would keep single seats, but independent David McClarty would lose out.

Despite the favourable prediction, TUV leader Jim Allister is unhappy with the new boundaries of his North Antrim constituency, which no longer would include Ballymena.

He said: “The historic and natural order has been devastated.”

Although nationalist representation could be strengthened, the new boundaries would not affect the share-out of ministries under the d’Hondt formula.

Mr Whyte said: “The two main unionist parties got 50% of the vote but got 53% of the seats, so they have a bonus of 3%, and that gets corrected in the new model.”

In Westminster, both the SDLP and DUP could lose a seat each.

Alasdair McDonnell, the SDLP’s South Belfast MP, concedes he cannot hold the new South West Belfast seat against Sinn Fein.

DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell could lose out in the new constituency of Glenshane to Sinn Fein. Mr Whyte estimates that the two main unionist parties will have 40% of the vote in Glenshane, while Sinn Fein will have 38% and the SDLP 16%.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone is longer and thinner, stretching from Donegal to near Lough Neagh, giving the constituency a natural nationalist majority of about 2,000, said Mr Whyte. It makes the seat fairly safe for Michelle Gildernew, who won by just four votes in last year’s General Election.

Lady Hermon is likely to retain North Down. But if she stands down the DUP could make up for the loss of Mr Campbell by taking her seat.

But Mr Whyte cautioned: “My figures assume that people continue to vote in the same way as they did in 2010 and 2011.”

The full analysis is at nwhyte.live-journal.com/1816829.html

Story so far

The Boundary Commission published proposals which would cut Northern Ireland’s Westminster constituencies from 18 to 16. \[s.alexander\]It still leaves us slightly overrepresented as our population entitles us to just 15.3 parlaimantary seats. The plan would have knock-on effects for the Assembly, which would fall to 96 seats from 108. The proposals are out for consultation.

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