Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 2016

The 2016 election to Northern Ireland s Assembly was held on 5 May 2016. It was the fifth election to take place since the devolved assembly was established in 1998. This election was originally scheduled to be held in May 2015, however, the Northern Ireland Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2014 extended the term of the Assembly from four to five years. The same legislation also introduced the end of dual mandates (double-jobbing) for MLAs. In addition, MLAs are now prohibited from also being a member of the House of Commons, European Parliament or Dáil Éireann.

This was also the final election in which each constituency elects six MLAs; 108 in total. All future Assembly elections will elect just five MLAs per constituency for a total of 90 (as long as the current 18 constituency configuration lasts).

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. Turnout for the election was recorded at 54.9% with 703,744 votes cast. Of these, 694,314 (98.7%) were deemed valid and 9,430 (1.3%) invalid.

Distribution of seats
 
Party / Candidate 1st Pref Votes 1st Pref % (+/-) Seats (+/-)
Democratic Unionist Party 202,567 29.2% (-0.8%) 38 seats -
Sinn Féin 166,785 24.0% (-2.9%) 28 seats (-1)
Ulster Unionist Party 87,302 12.6% (-0.6%) 16 seats -
Social Democratic & Labour Party 83,368 12.0% (-2.2%) 12 seats (-2)
Alliance Party 48,447 7.0% (-0.7%) 8 seats -
Traditional Unionist Voice 23,776 3.4% (+0.9%) 1 seat -
Green Party 18,718 2.7% (+1.8%) 2 seats (+1)
People Before Profit Alliance 13,761 2.0% (+1.2%) 2 seats (+2)
UK Independence Party 10,109 1.5% (+0.9%)

Progressive Unionist Party 5,955 0.9% (+0.7%)

Mary McCloskey (Foyle) 3,410 0.5%


Claire Sugden (East Londonderry) 3,270 0.5% - 1 seat -
Conservatives 2,554 0.4%


Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol 2,510 0.4%


Cross-Community Labour Alternative 1,939 0.3%


James Menagh (Strangford) 1,840 0.3%


Josephine Deehan (West Tyrone) 1,778 0.3%


Paul Berry (Newry & Armagh) 1,663 0.2%


NI Labour Representation Committee 1,577 0.2%


Workers Party 1,565 0.2% -

Brian Wilson (North Down) 1,415 0.2%


Maurice Devenney (Foyle) 1,173 0.2%


Samuel McCallister (South Down) 1,156 0.2%


Mary Hutton (East Belfast) 1,099 0.2%


Martin McAllister (Newry & Armagh) 940 0.1%


Kathleen Bradley (Foyle) 902 0.1%


Sorcha McAnespy (West Tyrone) 828 0.1%


Jonny Orr (Lagan Valley) 817 0.1%


Patsy Kelly (West Tyrone) 661 0.1%


David McMaster (South Antrim) 483 0.1%


Ruth Patterson (South Belfast) 475 0.1%


South Belfast Unionists 351 0.1%


Francis Hughes (North Belfast) 243 0.03%


Animal Welfare Party 224 0.03%


Corey French (West Tyrone) 124 0.02%


Democracy First 124 0.02%


Robert McCartney (Strangford) 107 0.02%


Thomas Burns (North Belfast) 87 0.01%


Susan White (West Tyrone) 85 0.01%


Victor Christie (East Londonderry) 61 0.01%


Stephen McCarroll (Upper Bann) 33 0.005%


Northern Ireland First 32 0.005%



The basis for comparison in the above table is the change in vote for candidates with the same party label from 2011.

Constituency List

The image below shows the geographical distribution of seats won by each party in the election. It is worth noting that the constituency boundaries and the number of representatives returned by each constituency did not change between this election and that of the 2011 Assembly election. It therefore provides an excellent opportunity for comparison and analysis. If and when the next Assembly election occurs, it is very likely that there will be considerable change to the existing boundaries. The Boundary Commission has begun it's sixth periodical review and is due to deliver it's final recommendations no later than 1 October 2018. Northern Ireland will see its number of constituencies decrease from 18 seats to 17. In addition the number of MLAs resturned for each constituency will be five rather than the current six.

graph

East Belfast 3 DUP, 2 Alliance, 1 UUP
North Belfast 3 DUP, 2 SF, 1 SDLP
South Belfast 2 DUP, 1 SDLP, 1 Alliance, 1 SF, 1 Green
West Belfast 4 SF, 1 PBP, 1 SDLP
East Antrim 3 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 Alliance, 1 SF
North Antrim 3 DUP, 1 TUV, 1 SF, 1 UUP
South Antrim 3 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SF, 1 Alliance
North Down 3 DUP, 1 Alliance, 1 UUP, 1 Green
South Down 2 SDLP, 2 SF, 1 DUP, 1 UUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone 2 SF, 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP
Foyle 2 SDLP, 2 SF, 1 DUP, 1 PBP
Lagan Valley 3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 Alliance
East Londonderry 3 DUP, 1 SF, 1 Ind, 1 SDLP
Mid Ulster 3 SF, 1 DUP, 1 SDLP, 1 UUP
Newry and Armagh 3 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 DUP, 1 UUP
Strangford 3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 Alliance
West Tyrone 3 SF, 1 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP
Upper Bann 2 DUP, 2 SF, 1 UUP

Analysis

The vote for all of the established parties was down. Down only slightly, 0.7%-0.8% for the DUP, UUP and Alliance, who were each returned with the same number of seats as in 2011. Down 2.2% for the SDLP from an already low base, and down 2.9% for Sinn Fein. It was the worst ever election in vote share for both the SDLP and UUP. The beneficiaries were the smaller parties; the Assembly has two Greens rather than one and two new MLAs from the People Before Profits Alliance. Independent MLA Claire Sugden held her seat, as did Jim Allister of the TUV.

The number of seats held by the Unionist parties did not change at all. The DUP took a UUP seat in South Belfast; the UUP took a DUP seat in neighbouring Lagan Valley. Otherwise, that was it, apart from some shifting of personnel. The expectation that the DUP vote was vulnerable to the fringe Unionists  TUV, PUP, UKIP  and to the UUP proved to be unfounded. Turnout was up in Unionist constituencies, but not necessarily for Unionist parties.

The Nationalist vote decreased for the fourth electoral cycle in a row; the combined SF and SDLP vote fell by over 5%. Both SF and the SDLP lost seats to the People Before Profit Alliance in Foyle and West Belfast; the SDLP also lost a seat to the Greens in South Belfast; the SDLP regained the seat they should not have lost last time from SF in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, but lost to them in Upper Bann. The Assembly has only 40 members from Nationalist parties, the fewest since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

In between, Alliance had something of a damp squib, holding their own (with tight squeezes, including the party leader in South Antrim); but the Greens surged to take a South Belfast seat and hold North Down. The PBPA success demonstrated that voters in Nationalist areas are not always concerned about voting for Nationalist candidates  or indeed about voting at all; turnout was down in all Nationalist-majority seats.

Overall, the lack of change among the headline figures masks a shift towards the younger generation and to a more diverse Assembly. There were 30 women elected, compared to 20 in 2011 and 23 in the outgoing Assembly after co-options are considered. In the first election to the Northern Ireland House of Commons, in 1921, two women, Dehra Chichester and Julia McMordie, were elected to its 52 seats, both Ulster Unionists. There was only one woman member of the Stormont House of Commons when it was prorogued in 1972 (Anne Dickson, later leader of the UPNI). Times have changed.

The closest results were:

Comparison with Previous Elections

You can also readily compare the results from this election with those of previous Assembly elections located elsewhere on this site, including: the 2011 elections here, the 2007 elections here, the 2003 elections here and the 1998 elections here. The results of the 1996 Forum Elections are also available. This graph below visually contrasts the 2016 Assembly election result with the four previous Assembly elections to of the Assembly, the Forum in 1996, the Assembly in 1982, the Constitutional Convention in 1975 and the Assembly in 1973.

graph



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, 13 March 2010.



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Disclaimer:© Nicholas Whyte 1998-2004 Last Updated on Sunday, 06-Mar-2011 19:41