DUP predicted to suffer greatest losses in upcoming poll

Posted By: February 24, 2017

Irish News. Belfast.Friday, February 24, 2017

SDLP stalwart Alex Attwood is forecast to lose his seat. Picture by Mal McCann
The DUP will suffer the greatest loss at the polls next week and will fall below the critical 30 MLA threshold required for a petition of concern, a former assembly member has predicted.

Brian Wilson, who was the first Green elected to Stormont, believes the DUP will emerge from the March 2 election with 29 seats – nine fewer than it had in the last mandate.

Mr Wilson, who ended his career as an independent on North Down Council, has based his predictions for the new 90-seat assembly on applying last year’s election results to the new five seat constituencies.

He notes that his forecast does not take into account changing voting patterns.

He predicts the DUP will lose seats in South Belfast, North Belfast, East Antrim, East Derry, Fermanagh-South Tyrone, Lagan Valley, North Antrim, North Down and South Antrim.

Sinn Féin, meanwhile, is set to lose six seats, according to Mr Wilson, leaving it with 22. The predicted losses will be in Mid Ulster, Newry and Armagh, South Down, Foyle, West Tyrone and East Antrim.

The former MLA believes Sinn Féin and the DUP will lose out in East Antrim.

“With 0.5 of a quota and no obvious hope of significant transfers, Sinn Féin will almost certainly lose its seats,” he said.

“There are a large number of floating unionist votes which may not go to DUP and there is the potential for a Ulster Unionist or UKIP pick up.”

Mr Wilson reckons SDLP stalwart Alex Attwood, right, will lose his West Belfast seat, while his colleague Richie McPhillips is destined to foresake his Fermanagh-South Tyrone seat, leaving the party with 10 MLAs.

The Ulster Unionist Party will lose its seat in Strangford and Upper Bann, the former MLA forecasts.

“It is difficult for a party with three MLAs at present to retain three seats,” he said.

“This is equivalent to three quotas – 50 per cent of vote including transfers – and this would require great vote discipline and favourable transfers.”

Mr Wilson said neither the DUP or Sinn Féin were “transfer friendly,” although he notes that some seats will be won without quota.