Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 2003

On 26 November 2003, for the first time since 1975, a regional level election was held on the same boundaries and with the same seat distribution as its predecessor.

The results

108 members were elected to the  Assembly; each of the existing 18 parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland elected 6 members of the new body by the Single Transferable Vote.  See spreadsheet archive.
 
DUP  177470  25.6%  +7.5%  30 seats  +10 
SF  162758  23.5%  +5.9%  24 seats  +6 
UUP  156931  22.7%  +1.4%  27 seats   -1 
SDLP  117547  17.0%  -5.0%%  18 seats   -6 
Alliance  25372  3.7%  -2.8%%  6 seats  +/- 0 
PUP  8032  1.2%  -1.4%   1 seat   -1 
Kieran Deeney (West Tyrone)  6158  0.9% 
1 seat +1
NIWC  5785  0.8%  -0.8% 
 -2 
UKUP  4794  0.7%  -3.8%   1 seat   -4 
UUC  2705  0.4% 


Green  2688  0.4%  +0.3% 

SEA  2394  0.35% 


Ivan Davis (Lagan Valley)  2223  0.32% 


WP  1881  0.3%  +/- 0% 

Cons  1604  0.2%  +/- 0% 

Jack McKee (East Antrim)  1449  0.2% 


Brian Wilson (North Down)  1350  0.2%  +/- 0% 

NIUP  1350  0.2% 


Alan Chambers (North Down)  1077  0.2% 


Roger Hutchinson (East Antrim)  1011  0.1% 


Pauline Armitage (East Londonderry)  906  0.1% 


Annie Courtney (Foyle)  802  0.1% 


William Frazer (Newry and Armagh)  632  0.1% 


Gardiner Kane (North Antrim)  623  0.1% 


David Jones (Upper Bann)  585  0.1% 


Sidney Anderson (Upper Bann)  581  0.1% 


Frank McCoubrey (North Belfast)  469  0.1% 


Alan Field (North Down)  428  0.1% 


Robert Lindsay Mason (East Antrim)  364  0.1%  +/- 0% 

John Anderson (East Antrim)  348  0.05% 


Socialist Party  343  0.05% 


Danny McCarthy (Strangford)  319  0.05% 


Raymond McCord (North Belfast)  218  0.03% 


John MacVicar (West Belfast)  211  0.03% 


Malachi Curran (South Down)  162  0.02% 


Danny McBrearty (Foyle)  137  0.02% 


Vote For Yourself Party  124  0.02% 


Chris Carter (North Down)  109  0.02%  +0.01% 

John McBlain (East Belfast)  72  0.01% 


David Kerr (Ulster Third Way)  16  0,00% 



The basis for comparison in the above table is the change in vote for candidates with the same party label from 1998. Thus I have not calculated a figure for Davis, McKee, Chambers, Hutchinson, Armitage,  Chambers, Fraser, Kane, McCoubrey, McCarthy, and Curran, who were independent candidates in 2003 but ran under a party designation in 1998. Wilson, Mason and Carter ran as independents both times, so a comparison is possible, and has been calculated. The three independent Unionists elected in 1998 all stood under a party label in 2003 (two as UUC and one as DUP), and the designation "independent Unionist" is no longer permitted, so their votes and seats cannot be compared directly (that is why the total of seats lost and gained shows an imbalance of three). Deeny, Jones, both Andersons, Field, McCord, MacVicar, McBrearty, McBlain and Kerr were not candidates in 1998.

Constituency List

map
This graphic shows the geographical distribution of seats by party in the election.

East Belfast 2 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 Alliance, 1 PUP
North Belfast 2 DUP, 2 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 UUP
South Belfast 2 UUP, 2 SDLP, 1 DUP, 1 SF
West Belfast 4 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 DUP
East Antrim 3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 Alliance
North Antrim 3 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP, 1 SF
South Antrim 2 UUP, 2 DUP, 1 SDLP, 1 Alliance
North Down 2 UUP, 2 DUP, 1 UKUP, 1 Alliance
South Down 2 SDLP, 2 SF, 1 UUP, 1 DUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone 2 UUP (of whom 1 now DUP), 2 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 DUP
Foyle 3 SDLP, 2 SF, 1 DUP
Lagan Valley 3 UUP (of whom 2 now DUP), 1 DUP, 1 Alliance, 1 SDLP
East Londonderry 2 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 SDLP, 1 SF
Mid Ulster 3 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 DUP, 1 UUP
Newry and Armagh 3 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 UUP, 1 DUP
Strangford 3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 Alliance
West Tyrone 2 SF, 1 Ind, 1 SDLP, 1 DUP, 1 UUP
Upper Bann 2 UUP, 2 DUP, 1 SDLP, 1 SF

graph
This graph contrasts the 2003 Assembly election result with the elections of the Assembly in 1973, the Forum in 1996, the Assembly in 1982, the Constitutional Convention in 1975 and the Assembly in 1973. Here are more details.

Analysis

This was a very good election for the DUP, who were convincingly ahead of the UUP for the first time outside a European election, and for SF, who had their best result since the creation of Northern Ireland, and came second for the first time since 1921. For the UUP, the vote was a slight improvement on the disappointing 1998 result, but a net loss of one seat and finishing third in votes made for a disappointing result. The SDLP had their worst election result since 1973. Alliance's vote slumped dramatically but the party held all four of its seats. The PUP and UKUP lost all but one of their seats, and other parties won none at all. The surprise of the election was the success of Kieran Deeny, an independent candidate in West Tyrone.

The closest results were:

  1. Mary Nelis (SF) held her seat against running-mate Raymond McCartney (also SF) by 8 votes in Foyle. She later resigned from the Assembly and McCartney took her place.
  2. Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) defeated Eamonn O'Neill (also SDLP) by 36 votes in South Down.
  3. Diane Dodds (DUP) defeated Sue Ramsey (SF) by 87 votes in West Belfast. Ramsey did get to the Assembly after all when one of the other SF members elected in West Belfast resigned.
  4. Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) defeated Monica McWilliams (Women's Coalition) by 127 votes in South Belfast, with an undistributed UUP surplus of 60 votes which would have narrowed the gap.

See also: Jim Riley's analysis of votes and seats in the 1998 Assembly election | List of all 1998 candidates

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.

Nicholas Whyte, 7 December 2003; last modified 6 January 2004.



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