Sunday, 5 March 2017

Belfast West. How do Sinn Féin spread their vote?

For supporters of the Single Transferable Vote (STV)  the result in the recent Northern Ireland election provided some intriguing results, None more so than Belfast west

The election was carried out after the number of seats in the Assembly were cut with only 5 rather than 6 MLA being elected.

It meant that  Party strategist  had to examine their potential vote and try and forecast how many seats they can win.

Put up too few candidates and get a swing and you may miss out on a seat in a constituency.

Out uo too many candidates and your vote could be split and candidates eliminated  before their vote can be transferred between each other.

Even in seats where you are dominant  you need to ensure that you don't lose out if one candidate of your party gets a large number of First preference votes and you can see some eliminated before transfers come to their rescue.

That is why Belfast West was so intriguing


2017 Assembly election: Belfast West - 5 seats[1]
PartyCandidate % 1st PrefCount 1Count 2Count 3Count 4
Sinn FéinÓrlaithí Flynn17.16,918
People Before ProfitGerry Carroll12.24,9036,5148,252
Sinn FéinAlex Maskey15.76,3466,4517,036
Sinn FéinFra McCann15.46,2016,3146,6367,067
Sinn FéinPat Sheehan13.55,4665,5155,7395,903
DUPFrank McCoubrey10.14,0634,3724,4904,521
SDLPAlex Attwood8.63,4524,019
People Before ProfitMichael Collins2.71,096
AllianceSorcha Eastwood1.9747
UUPFred Rogers1.2486
Workers' PartyConor Campbell1.0415
Green (NI)Ellen Murray0.6251
Electorate: 61,309   Valid: 40,344   Spoilt: 586 (1.4%)   Quota: 6,725   Turnout: 40,930 (66.76%)

Sinn Féin won 4 out of the 5 seats with only  Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit gaining the other seat

What is interesting  is that Sinn Féin candidates topped the poll and hat one candidate does not run away from his or pack members.

This was even true when  Gerry Adams was a candidate and the seat had six members.

2007 Assembly election: Belfast West - 6 seats
PartyCandidate % 1st PrefCount 1Count 2Count 3Count 4Count 5Count 6
Sinn FéinGerry Adams17.86,029
Sinn FéinSue Ramsey14.04,7155,266.60
Sinn FéinPaul Maskey12.94,3684,758.604,774.054,783.954,821.805,074.80
Sinn FéinJennifer McCann12.64,2654,294.804,665.754,667.704,693.504,848.50
SDLPAlex Attwood9.03,0363,148.803,149.703,196.903,234.904,779.10
Sinn FéinFra McCann12.64,2544,323.804,344.954,353.804,3784,646.85
DUPDiane Dodds10.83,6613,6613,661.153,671.153,677.154,166
SDLPMargret Walsh3.21,0741,086.201,087.101,110.301,156.50
People Before ProfitSeán Mitchell2.3774789789.60830.40968.80
UUPLouis West1.7558558.80558.80579.80581.80
Workers' PartyJohn Lowry1.3434440440.45452.65452.65
Republican Sinn FéinGeraldine Taylor1.3427429429.45437.05
AllianceDan McGuinness0.4127132.40133.30
Make Politicians HistoryRainbow George0.2686969
Electorate: 50,792   Valid: 33,790   Spoilt: 448   Quota: 4,828   Turnout: 34,238 (67.4%)
Surely this can't be  simply as a result of voter preferences within the Part candidates.

I would suspect that a Candidate like Addams would get a huge number of the First preference  and his surplus votes going o another Star candidate leaving the rest to battle not to be eliminated in the early rounds;

Does the Party have a campaign strategy to ensure a spread of First Preference votes ?

The question that intrigues me is how does a Part make sure that their first preference vote does not go to a " Star" candidate, and it is spread more evenly through the Party candidates .

There are calls for election to the Welsh Assembly to be conducted under STV something I support

But it is clear that if this happens the role of Party Strategist will be enhanced and they will need to learn  how to maximise their vote and maybe poor over then statistics over a number of elections, both in the North and Republic of Ireland.

Is there any information 


Dewi Harries said...

They split West Belfast into wards and literature posters and canvassers all highlight the preferred first vote in each geographic area...very sophisticated...the surprising thing is that they didn't put up 5 candidates.....a very tough task under STV.....but possible

glynbeddau said...

I though it would be something like that, but it does show sophistication on the electorate as well as when confronted by the ballot paper they do not instinctively vote for a "Star" like Addams.
I don't think 5 seats is possible with 3 other candidates on over 10%