South Belfast

map East
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Maps by Conal Kelly, graph by Fergal Whyte

detailed map

This constituency takes in the southern quarter of Belfast City Council and adjacent parts of Lisburn and Castlereagh District Council. The MP since 2005 is Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP); he replaced the Rev Martin Smyth (UUP) who had retired. Smyth had represented South Belfast since a 1982 by-election caused by the IRA assassination of the previous incumbent. The SDLP hold two of the Assembly seats, with the DUP, UUP, Sinn Féin and Alliance on one each (Alliance gained a seat from the UUP in 2007; SF gained a seat from the Women's Coalition in 2003). See the 1983-92 South Belfast results, the 1973-82 South Belfast results and the 1950-1970 South Belfast results.

Assembly speculation: The SDLP, DUP and Alliance all seem certain of one seat here, and probably SF as well; after that it gets very messy, with second runners from the three leading parties, the UUP, and possibly even the Greens having a chance at the final two.

The constituency was expanded a little in 1983, rather more in 1995, and more again in 2009 when it gained four Castlereagh wards from East Belfast, and two from Strangford. This made the new constituency 0.4% less Catholic, and 0.6% more Protestant than the old.

The 2011 census found that the average age of South Belfast residents was 36.83 (11th of the 18 constituencies), and the median age 33 (equal lowest). 44.01% of the population were or had been brought up as Catholics (9th of the 18 constituencies), 43.65% were or had been brought up as Protestants (11th), 2.80% were of non-Christian religious background (the most), and 9.54% had no religion (3rd).

In the multi-option national identity question, 44.56% said that they had British identity (11th of 18 constituencies), 30.93% said that they had Irish identity (8th), 30.41% Northern Irish (9th), 2.00% English, Scots or Welsh (3rd), and 7.42% something other (the most).

27.95% lived in households of social grade AB (1st of the 18 constituencies), 38.53% in C1 households (1st), 15.23% C2 (18th) and 18.29% DE (18th).

12.92% claim some ability in the Irish language (8th of 18 constituencies) and 6.8% in Ulster Scots (9th).

South Belfast has the highest proportion of Chinese speakers (0.76%) and joint highest proprtion of Malayalam speakers (0.13%) in Northern Ireland.

See spreadsheets from the 2011 Assembly election, the 2010 Westminster election, the 2007 Assembly election, the 2005 Westminster election, the 2003 Assembly election, the 2001 Westminster election, the 1998 Assembly election, the 1997 Westminster election and the 1996 Forum/talks election. See also the detailed guide from 2007 by "Sammy Morse".

Results of recent elections using new boundaries


DUP UUP Oth U Alliance Oth SDLP SF
2015w
22.2% 9.1% 6.4% 17.2% 6.6% 24.5% 13.9%
2014lg
20.4% 10.1% 8.0% 19.4% 10.1% 18.9% 13.5%
2011a
24.3% 13.6% 0.7% 19.8% 5.2% 23.9% 12.5%
2011lg
24.0% 12.8% 1.4% 20.5% 5.1% 23.9% 12.2%
2010w 23.7% 17.3%   15.0% 3.0% 41.0%  
2007a
23.6% 17.9% 2.8% 13.0% 4.3% 25.6% 12.8%
2005w 29.6% 22.2%
7.2% 1.8% 30.1% 9.0%
2005lg 25.0% 17.1% 0.1% 13.1% 3.2% 26.9% 14.4%

NB that the figures for elections before 2010 are projections onto the new boundaries. Figures for the old boundaries can be found at the bottom of the page.
NB also that the Conservatives got 0.4% in 2007 (on the old boundaries) and supported the UUP in 2010.

2015 Westminster election

*Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 9,560 (24.5%, -16.5%)
Jonathan Bell (DUP) 8,654 (22.2%, -1.5%)
Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) 6,711 (17.2%, +2.3%)
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (SF) 5,402 (13.9%)
Rodney McCune (UUP) 3,549 (9.1%, -8.2%)
Clare Bailey (Green) 2,238 (5.7%, +2.7%)
Bob Stoker (UKIP) 1,900 (4.9%)
Ben Manton (Conservative) 582 (1.5%)
Lily Kerr (WP) 361 (0.9%)
Electorate: 64,927; Total Poll: 39,140 (60.3%); Invalid Votes: 183 (0.5%); Valid Votes: 38,957

McDonnell's vote share of less than 25% is the lowest ever for a winning candidate in a single-seat Westminster election.

If cast in a six-seat Assembly election, these votes would probably give the SDLP and DUP two seats, and Alliance and SF one.

2014 local government election

From the 2011 census, South Belfast includes:

The entire Belfast DEA of Botanic
98% of the Belfast DEA of Balmoral
55% of the Belfast DEA of Lisnasharragh
17% of the Belfast DEA of Titanic
and
95% of the Lisburn and Castlereagh DEA of Castlereagh South

With some adjustment for voter community background, I project the 2014 results as:

DUP 6618 (20%)
Alliance 6311 (19%)
SDLP 6146 (19%)
SF 4374 (13%)
UUP 3279 (10%)
NI21 1466 (5%)
PUP 1307 (4%)
Green 1295 (4%)
TUV 1092 (3%)
Cons 197 (1%)
Soc 183 (1%)
WP 118 (0.4%)
Ind 68 (0.2%)

If cast in a six-seat STV election, those votes would certainly give the DUP, Alliance and SDLP a seats each. There is certainly one more Unionist seat, and the UUP would be best placed to take it. SF would likely to take one of the other two, with the last potentially going either to the second Alliance or SDLP runners, depending on balancing, or maybe even to a third Unionist (likely the second DUP runner) if they balance better.

2011 Assembly election (six seats)

@Anna Lo (Alliance) 6,390 (19.8%)
@Alasdair McDonnell MP (SDLP) 4,527 (14.0%)
@Jimmy Spratt (DUP) 4,045 (12.5%)
@Alex Maskey (SF) 4,038 (12.5%)
Ruth Patterson (DUP) 3,800 (11.8%)
@Conall McDevitt (SDLP) 3,191 (9.9%)
@Michael McGimpsey (UUP) 2,988 (9.2%)
Mark Finlay (UUP) 1,394 (4.3%)
Clare Bailey (Green) 889 (2.8%)
Brian Faloon (PBPA) 414 (1.3%)
Paddy Meehan (Socialist) 234 (0.7%)
Nico Torregrosa (UKIP) 234 (0.7%)
Paddy Lynn (WP) 135 (0.4%)
Charles Smyth (Pro-Capitalist) 29 (0.1%)

@ member of the Assembly when it was dissolved.

DUP 7,845 (24.3%, +0.7%) 1 seat
SDLP 7,718 (23.9%, -1.7%) 2 seats
Alliance 6,390 (19.8%, +6.8%) 1 seat
UUP 4,382 (13.6%, -4.3%) 1 seat
SF 4,038 (12.5%, -0.3%) 1 seat
Green 889 (2.8%, +0.3%)
PBPA 414 (1.3%)
Socialist 234 (0.7%, -0.1%)
UKIP 234 (0.7%)
WP 135 (0.4%, +0.01%)
Pro-Capitalism 29 (0.1%, +0.02%)

Electorate 62,484
Votes cast 32,752 (52.4%); spoilt votes 444 (1.4%)
Valid votes 32,308; quota 4,616

On first preferences it looked as if the DUP might make a gain from the SDLP or UUP, but in fact Patterson was unable to attract transfers, and finished almost 120 votes behind her own running mate Spratt, and more than 280 behind McDevitt of the SDLP and McGimpsey of the UUP.

2011 local government election

My projection of the votes cast in Balmoral, Laganbank, two Pottinger wards, Castlreagh West, most of Castlereagh South and Wynchurch is as follows:

DUP 7,763 (24.0%)
SDLP 7,734 (23.9%)
Alliance 6,625 (20.5%)
UUP 4,129 (12.8%)
SF 3,940 (12.2%)
Green 966 (3.0%)
PBPA 368 (1.1%)
PUP 362 (1.1%)
Socialist 187 (0.6%)
TUV 86 (0.3%)
Procapitalist 3 (0.01%)
Inds 11 (0.03%)

In a six-seat STV election, these votes would have given all the five main parties a seat each, with the last between second runners from the DUP and SDLP (and possibly Alliance).

2010 Westminster election (one seat)

*@Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 14,026 (41.0%, +8.9%)
@ Jimmy Spratt (DUP) 8,100 (23.7%, -6.1%)
Paula Bradshaw (UCUNF) 5,910 (17.3%, -4.9%)
@Anna Lo (Alliance) 5,114 (15.0%, +7.8%)
Adam McGibbon (Green) 1,036 (3.0%)
Electorate: 59,524; Total Poll: 34,359 (57.7%); Invalid Votes: 173 (0.5%); Valid Votes: 34,186

* incumbent
@ elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly from this constituency

An excellent result for the SDLP, who were helped by Sinn Féin's decision not to contest the seat, but on these figures would probably have won anyway. Unionist voters from 2005 seem to have simply not turned out this time, or supported Alliance instead. On these figures, the SDLP would probably win three Assembly seats, the other three going to DUP, UUP and Alliance.

2007 Assembly Election

Full details of each count are available here.
 
Jimmy Spratt (DUP) 4762 (15.7%)
*Alasdair McDonnell MP (SDLP) 4379 (14.4%)
*Alex Maskey (SF) 3996 (13.2%)
Anna Lo (Alliance) 3829 (12.6%)
*Carmel Hanna (SDLP) 3748 (12.4%)
*Michael McGimpsey (UUP) 2647 (8.7%)
Christopher Stalford (DUP) 2035 (6.7%)
*Esmond Birnie (UUP) 1804 (5.9%)
Bobby Stoker (UUP) 1122 (3.7%)
Brenda Cooke (Green) 737 (2.4%)
Andrew Park (PUP) 410 (1.4%)
David Hoey (UKUP) 298 (1.0%)
James Barbour (Socialist) 248 (0.8%)
Patrick Joseph Lynn (WP) 123 (0.4%)
Roger Lomas (Conservative) 108 (0.4%)
Rainbow George (Make Politicians History) 66 (0.2%)
Charles Smyth (Procapitalism) 22 (0.1%)
Geoffrey Wilson (Independent) 10 (0.03%)

*Elected in 2003 from South Belfast
SDLP 8,127 (26.8%, +3.9%) 2 seats
DUP 6,797 (22.4%, +1.6%) 1 seat
UUP 5,573 (18.4%, -8.7%) 1 seat (-1)
SF 3,996 (13.2%, +0.6%) 1 seat
Alliance 3,829 (12.6%, +6.7%) 1 seat (+1)
Green 737 (2.4%, +1.4%)
PUP 410 (1.4%, -0.2%)
UKUP 298 (1.0%)
Socialist (0.8%, +0.3%)
WP 123 (0.4%, +0.1%)
Conservative 108 (0.4%, -0.01%)
Rainbow George 66 (0.2%, +0.1%)
Procapitalism 22 (0.1)
Ind 10 (0.03%)

Electorate 48,923
Votes cast 30,353 (62.4%); spoilt votes 189 (0.6%) 
Valid votes 30,344; quota 4,335

There were three quotas of Unionist votes here, but only two Unionist seats as both DUP and UUP failed to balance their candidates. Alliance surprised many (but not me) by taking a seat: the big surprise was that it came at the expense of the UUP, rather than either nationalist party, both of whom improved their ground with impressive balancing from the SDLP. On the last count Stalford (DUP) was 892 votes behind Maskey (SF), with undistributed surpluses of 592 from the UUP and 80 from Alliance, of which the former would have narrowed the gap.

2005 Westminster election (5 May, 1 seat)

@Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 10,339 (32.3% +1.7%)
Jimmy Spratt (DUP) 9,104 (28.4%)
@Michael McGimpsey (UUP) 7,263 (22.7% -22.1%)
@Alex Maskey (Sinn Fein) 2,882 (9.0% +1.4%)
Geraldine Rice (Alliance) 2,012 (6.3% +0.9%)
Lynda Gilby (Vote for Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket) 235 (0.7% +0.4%)
Patrick Joseph Lynn (Workers Party) 193 (0.6% +0.1%)

@ Member of the Assembly

In a six-seat STV election, these votes would give the SDLP and DUP two seats each, and the UUP one. SF would be best placed to take the last seat.

2005 local government election (5 May)

The constituency comprises 13 of the 51 wards in Belfast (all 6 wards in the Balmoral DEA, all 5 wards in the Laganbank DEA, and 2 of the 6 wards in the Pottinger DEA [Ravenhill and Woodstock]), and 6 of the 23 wards in Castlereagh (4 of the 5 wards in the Castlereagh West DEA [Beechill, Galwally, Minnowburn and Newtownbreda]) and 2 of the 5 wards in the Castlereagh South DEA [Cairnshill and Knockbracken]).

SDLP 8,538.5 (26.9%)
DUP 8,057.8 (25.4%)
UUP 6,250.5 (19.7%)
Alliance 4,045.6 (12.8%)
Sinn Fein 3,274.7 (10.3%)
Independents 425.8 (1.3%)
PUP 385.3 (1.2%)
Green 369.0 (1.2%)
Socialist Party (229.3 0.7%)
WP 142.0 (0.4%)

In a six-seat STV election, these votes would probably give the SDLP and DUP two seats each, and the UUP and Alliance one each.

2003 Assembly election (26 November; six seats)

Also available: details of each count with analysis of surplus transfers.
*Michael McGimpsey (UUP) 5389 (17.2%)
*Mark Robinson (DUP) 3991 (12.7%)
#Alex Maskey (SF) 3933 (12.6%)
*Carmel Hanna (SDLP) 3910 (12.5%)
*Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 3266 (10.4%)
Ruth Patterson (DUP) 2538 (8.1%)
*Esmond Birnie (UUP) 2311 (7.4%)
*Monica McWilliams (NIWC) 2150 (6.9%)
Geraldine Rice (Alliance) 1185 (3.8%)
John Hiddleston (UUP) 769 (2.5%)
Tom Ekin (Alliance) 664 (2.1%)
Thomas Morrow (PUP) 495 (1.6%)
John Wright (Green) 308 (1.0%)
James Barbour (Soc) 167 (0.5%)
Roger Lomas (Con) 116 (0.4%)
Patrick Lynn (WP) 96 (0.3%)
Lindsay Steven (VFYS) 42 (0.1%)
UUP 8,469 (27.0%, +3.6%) 2 seats
SDLP 7,176 (22.9%, +1.2%) 2 seats
DUP 6,529 (20.8%, +6.7%) 1 seat
SF 3,933 (12.6%, +6.2%) 1 seat
NIWC 2,150 (6.9%, -2.7%) Best result for NIWC in Northern Ireland
Alliance 1,849 (5.9%, -4.1%)
PUP 495 (1.6%, -3.6%)
Green 308 (1.0%)
Soc 167 (0.5%)
Cons 116 (0.4%, +0.2%)
WP 96 (0.3%, -0.1%)
VFYP 42 (0.1%)

Electorate 50,707 
Votes cast 31,737 (62.6%); spoilt votes 407 (1.3%) 
Valid votes 31,330; quota 4,476 

* Outgoing member for South Belfast
# Outgoing member for West Belfast

SF gain from Monica McWilliams of the NIWC.

South Belfast had lost 16.98% of its electorate in the great electoral register shake-out, varying from a whopping 41.60% in the Botanic ward of Belfast to 8.09% in the Knockbracken ward of Castlereagh. 16 constituencies lost fewer voters, only West Belfast lost more.

2001 Westminster Election (7 June; 1 seat)

*Martin Smyth (UUP) 17,008 (44.8%)
@Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 11,609 (30.6%)
@Monica McWilliams (NIWC) 2,968 (7.8%)
@Alex Maskey (Sinn Fein) 2,894 (7.6%)
Geraldine Rice (Alliance) 2,042 (5.4%)
Dawn Purvis (PUP) 1,112 (2.9%)
Paddy Lynn (WP) 204 (0.5%)
Rainbow George Weiss (Vote for Yourself Party) 115 (0.3%)

Electorate: 59,436; votes cast: 38,185 (64.25%); spoilt votes: 233 (0.6%)
Valid votes: 37,952; UUP majority 5,399

* Outgoing MP
@ Member of the Assembly

This was the first result to be declared in the 2001 election; fevered speculation than McDonnell might win on a split Unionist vote rapidly turned out to be as fanciful as most of the SDLP's predictions about this election. For the first time ever, less than half the voters of South Belfast voted Unionist. A six-seat Assembly election on these votes would give the UUP three seats and the SDLP two, with the last probably going to the Women's Coalition.

2001 Local Government Election (7 June)

Votes cast in 2001 were as follows:

UUP 11020.5 (29%)
SDLP 9052.4 (25%)
DUP 6274.1 (17%)
Alliance 4204 (11%)
SF 3803.1 (10%)
PUP 1517.5 (4%)
NIWC 947.8 (3%)
WP 201 (1%)
Cons 42.8 (0.1%)
UKUP 24.7 (0.1%)
Inds 341.7 (1%)
Total Valid 35410.5

There are three Unionist seats, which would go two to the UUP and one to the DUP. The SDLP have one seat for sure, but the last two seats would be very close between a second SDLP candidate, SF and Alliance.

1998 Assembly Election (25 June; six seats)

Also available: details of each count with analysis of surplus transfers.
 
*Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 4,956 
Michael McGimpsey (UUP) 4,938 
*Steve McBride (All) 4,086 
#Monica McWilliams (NIWC) 3,912 
Carmel Hanna (SDLP) 3,882 
Esmond Birnie (UUP) 2,875 
Mark Robinson (DUP) 2,872 
Sean Hayes (SF) 2,605 
Myreve Chambers (DUP) 2,449 
Ernie Purvis (PUP) 2,112 
David Adams (UDP) 1,745 
*Jim Clarke (UUP) 1,720 
Grant Dillon (UKU) 1,496 
Wiliam Dixon (Unionist) 437 
Boyd Black (Lab) 231 
Paddy Lynn (WP) 176 
Roger Lomas (C) 97 
James Anderson (NLP) 73 
Niall Cusack (Lab) 62 
UUP 9,533 (23.41%) 2 seats
SDLP 8,838 (21.70%) 2 seats
DUP 5,321 (13.07%) 1 seat
All 4,086 (10.03%) 
NI Women 3,912 (9.61%) 1 seat
SF 2,605 (6.40%) 
PUP 2,112 (5.19%) 
UDP 1,745 (4.28%) 
UKU 1,496 (3.67%) 
Unionist 437 (1.07%) 
Lab 293 (0.72%) 
WP 176 (0.43%) 
C 97 (0.24%) 
NLP 73 (0.18%) 

Electorate: 61,209 
Votes cast: 41,266 (67.4%); spoilt votes: 542 (1.3%)

* elected in 1996 Forum/talks election from South Belfast
# elected in 1996 Forum/talks election as a 'top-up' candidate.

This was always the most likely place for the Women's Coalition to break through. A bitterly disappointing result for Alliance, whose Steve McBride came third in terms of first preference votes but was overtaken by four other candidates. On the final count he had 4,832 votes to Hanna's 4,983. There were 143 undistributed UUP votes from McGimpsey's and Birnie's surpluses, which would have gone a long way to making up the difference, so the effective margin of defeat was more on the order of 15 votes than 151.

1997 Local Government Election

Ulster Unionist Party 7,938.7 (26%)
Social Democratic and Labour Party 6,422.8 (21%)
Democratic Unionist Party 4,955.2 (16%)
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland 4,480.2 (15%)
Progressive Unionist Party 2,125.3 (7%)
Sinn Féin 1,714 (6%)
Women's Coalition 691.7 (2%)
Ulster Democratic Party 576.3 (2%)
Green Party 230 (1%)
Workers Party 198.3 (1%)
Conservative Party 71 (0.24%)
Natural Law Party 24 (0.08%)
Ulster Independence 7 (0.02%)
Eastr Belfast Labour 6.3 (0.02%)
Total Valid 31,155.4 (46.77% of electorate)

1997 Westminster Election (one seat)

* Martin Smyth (Ulster Unionist Party) 14,201 (36%)
ƒAlasdair McDonnell (Social Democratic and Labour Party) 9,601 (24%)
ƒDavid Ervine (Progressive Unionist Party) 5,687 (14%)
ƒSteve McBride (Alliance Party of Northern Ireland) 5,112 (13%)
Sean Hayes (Sinn Féin) 2,019 (5%)
Annie Campbell (Northern Ireland Women's Coalition) 1,204 (3%)
Myrtle Boal (Conservative Party) 962 (2%)
Niall Cusack (Independent Labour) 292 (1%)
Patrick Lynn (Workers' Party) 286 (1%)
James Anderson (Natural Law Party) 120 (0.30%)
Turnout 39,484 (62.24%)

* Outgoing MP
ƒ Member of the Forum

1996 Forum Election

Also available: full list of 1996 candidates

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 8,617 (23%); Robert Stoker, James Clarke elected
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 7,956 (21%); Alasdair McDonnell elected
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 5,818 (15%); Joan Parkes elected
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 4,689 (12%); Steve McBride elected
Sinn Féin (SF) 2,455 (6%)
Progressive Unionist Party 2,321 (6%)
United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) 1,750 (5%)
Ulster Democratic Party 1,666 (4%)
Northern Ireland Women's Coalition 947 (3%)
Labour (Lab) 333 (1%)
Green Party 314 (1%)
Conservative Party (Con) 279 (1%)
Workers Party (WP) 270 (1%)
Democratic Partnership 133 (0.35%)
Ulster Independence Movement (UIM) 108 (0.29%)
Democratic Left (DL) 96 (0.25%)
Ulster Christian Democrat Party (UCD) 31 (0.08%)
Natural Law Party (NLP) 13 (0.03%)
Independent Chambers 5 (0.01%)

Electorate: 63,890; votes cast: 37,897 (59.3%); spoilt votes: 89 (0.2%); valid votes: 37,808

Results 1996-2007


DUP UUP PUP Oth U Alliance NIWC Oth SDLP SF
2007a
22% 18% 1% 1% 13%
4% 27% 13%
2005w 28% 23%

6%
1% 32% 9%
2005lg 25% 20% 1%
13%
4% 27% 10%
2003a 21% 27% 2% 0% 6% 7% 2% 23% 13%
2001w
45% 3%
5% 8% 1% 31% 8%
2001lg 17% 29% 4% 2% 11% 3% 2% 24% 10%
1998a 13% 23% 5% 9% 10% 10% 1% 22% 6%
1997lg 16% 26% 7% 2% 15% 2% 1% 21% 6%
1997w
36% 14% 2% 13% 3% 2% 24% 5%
1996f 15% 23% 6% 10% 12% 3% 3% 21% 6%

 


See also: Full 2003 results from South Belfast | Full 1998 results from South Belfast | The Boundary Commission's Provisional Recommendations | Boundary Commission 2003 | Jim Riley's analysis of votes and seats in the 1998 Assembly election | The constituencies

Other sites based at ARK: ORB (Online Research Bank) | CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) | Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey

Your comments, please! Send an email to me at nicholas.whyte@gmail.com.
 
This page has been developed with the support of a project grant from the New Initiatives Fund of the Electoral Commission. However, any views expressed on this page or, in particular, other pages of this website are those of the author and not necessarily shared by The Electoral Commission.

Nicholas Whyte, 3 June 1998; last updated 9 May 2015.



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