Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

The border vote: A trend stretching back 44 years

The poll's results on voting and the border are convincing.

This trend they illustrate goes at least as far back as Richard Rose’s surveys of political opinion in Northern Ireland in 1968. Since then it has been clear that a substantial chunk of the Catholic population do not actually want a united Ireland.

It has been of the order of 20% to 40% in the past and it has varied with circumstances.

People wonder why, if this is true, 80%-90% of Catholics who vote are voting for parties who favour a united Ireland.

I believe that it is about the politics of communal representation rather than Irish unity.

People want to vote for politicians who share their background and instincts and the party's position on the border is less of an issue.

Historically, pro-Union Catholics have been repelled by the trappings of political unionism like the Orange Order and do not feel inclined to vote for parties that are obsessed with them.

This poll does show that there is, as there has always been, cross-community voting.

Dr Nicholas Whyte runs the NI Election website

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