Assembly race produces dead heat

 
Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were both satisfied with their parties' outcome

So at long last all the results are in.

Satisfaction for the DUP and Sinn Fein, who increase their mutual dominance.

Soul searching for the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP, who both have to consider what future direction they can take to regain relevance.

Tom Elliott's clash with Sinn Fein supporters in Omagh gives the impression he will position the UUP as TUV-lite.

However a sizeable section of his Stormont team are closer to Alliance in their outlook.

Sinn Fein's victory in East Antrim and Alliance's failure to secure a second seat in North Down have set up a fascinating mathematical dead heat for the final Executive department.

Little did I think, when I started writing on the Devenport Diaries about it months ago, that the Mrs Wilson versus Mr Wilson's assistant battle would have such far reaching implications.

Steven Agnew's last gasp victory for the Greens leaves Alliance on 8 seats - exactly half the Ulster Unionist total of 16.

Under the D'Hondt system the UUP gets one department, but when its turn comes for a second pick, its seats have half the value.

So it's 8 versus 8. At this point the tie breaker is how many first preference votes each party received, with the UUP vote tally also being halved.

According to this method, Alliance is also ahead, so should take its first ministry before the UUP get a chance for a second.

Done and dusted?

So all done and dusted? Not so fast - could the UUP approach the East Londonderry MLA David McClarty, who stood as an independent after being deselected?

If Mr McClarty is added to the UUP total they edge ahead. The former deputy speaker may exact a price from his former colleagues, but his difference was always with the activists in his area, not the UUP hierarchy.

However, will the Assembly authorities accept that an independent can be counted towards the UUP total, even if he comes from the party "gene pool"?

Equally if the UUP can court Mr McClarty might Alliance approach Steven Agnew (after all the Greens were part of the same United Community group in Stormont)?

If Alliance gets the last department under D'Hondt, they will take this in addition to the Justice Ministry. That is almost certainly going to David Ford again under the cross-community compromise reached by the DUP and Sinn Fein during the Hillsborough negotiations.

The compromise is due to expire in May 2012, but in the meantime it would mean a party with eight MLAs holding twice as many departments as a party with 16 MLAs.

No doubt this will spark protests about a lack of democratic fairness. So expect plenty of machinations before the Stormont ministerial line up is finalised. Indeed I would not be surprised if this one ends up in the courts.

 
Mark Devenport Article written by Mark Devenport Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 37.

    Thanks sethspeirs, it looks like Devenportonenil!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 36.

    ManOfPie

    Elementary my dear Watson!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 35.

    DinD,

    It would appear that Mark's maths are correct. Perhaps it's easier to have appropriate brackets for such equations.

    Don't think of it as "87,531 / 1, then add 1"

    Think of it as "85,531 / (1 + 1)"

    Which is, of course, 85,531 / 2.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 34.

    @healyonenil. Mark is correct.

    S18 (6) of the NI Act 1998 states:

    Where the figures given by the formula for two or more political parties are equal, each of those figures shall be recalculated with S being equal to the number of first preference votes cast for the party at the last general election of members of the Assembly.

    So you replace the seats with votes in rhe event of a tie.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 33.

    Mark,

    I read the link the other day and thought there was a mistake. 87,531 divided by 1 is 87,531; is it not? Should that not read: 'UUP votes 87,531 divided by 2 + 1 (the ministry the party already has) = 43,765.5'.

    Am I missing something?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 32.

    Mark, I appreciate there is some confusion over the tenth seat. However as you can see from your link to the pdf document issued by the Assembly it clearly states that if two parties have the same value then the party with the greater number of first preference votes is entitled to the nomination. Surely Dr Sydney Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Politics, QUB would be able to give a definitive answer.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 31.

    UUP votes 87,531 divided by 1 + 1 (the ministry the party already has) = 43,765.5
    Alliance votes 50,875 divided by 1 + 0 (at this point the party has no ministries) = 50,875.
    Of course this changes if UUP is credited with McClarty seat and tie breaker is not required.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 30.

    Hi healyonenil,
    Some politicians also queried this. The legislation says the picks are determined by the equation S divided by 1 + M. S equals a party's seats. M equals any ministries they have before picking a department. In the event of a dead heat, the legislation says a party's total votes is substituted for its seats. I shall post another comment with the exact equation for 10th pick.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 29.

    Great to see Thomas Burns didn,t get in . Looking at crumlin main street it looks like his old office was the only building that wasn,t in danger of closure, but now it joins the rest. Pity it didn,t happen sooner and saved the tax payer more money.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 28.

    Mark

    DO THE DUP MATH

    On Polling Day Poots called a meeting to urgently consider delisting Ballyhoran House SEE http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13286171 AND HERE12 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b010q8g8

    On last day in office Foster approved £36k bonus for Invest Chief Executive, a former DUP Advisor.

    Call me old-fashioned...

    Susie
    Carryduff

  • rate this
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    Comment number 27.

    Mark

    Not the first time Gerry Kelly has been associated with robbery.

    Susie
    Carryduff

  • rate this
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    Comment number 26.

    The lastest election was to prove that politics in the north is far from boring (if you know where to look).
    It would seem that the joint firsts ministers cannot do wrong at the moment in contrast to the leadership (with a small L) of both SDLP and UUP fringe parties.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 25.

    Mark, you are wrong. Under the D'Hondt system the UUP is entitled to 2 departments. When the seats are tied, the department is awarded to the party with the largest number of first preference votes. They are NOT halved - read the link you have attached! The UUP do not need David McClarty to join them to get a second department. The Alliance Party are entitled to the 11th Department.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 24.

    Ah the sour grapes have ripened. The people of this state have shown who they want to lead them politically. Sideline jabs look childish to say the least. All you have to do is watch any of the political debates, to see who has the real maturity to take us forward. That is neither the UUP nor the SDLP. They are the outsiders now, and will remain so as long as Elliot and Ritchie are at their helms.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 23.

    You have to marvel at the total hypocrisy of McGuinness and Adams condemning the dissidents, when on his visit to Ireland in 1979 they ignored the plea of the now Blessed John Paul to cease the violence. How many lives could have been spared? 15 years later and for what. God save Ireland from that mob.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 22.

    @DisgustedinDerry, of course TUV would have to have a ministry but given that UUP and TUV leaders appear to be on same wavelength that wouldn't be a problem.But could UUP members swallow it?

    A big well done to James O Kane (75yrs+) and once again elected as an Independent to Strabane Council. 30yrs+ of helping all who come to his door, our politicians would do well to watch and learn from him.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 21.

    @victoriaman, would that mean Jim the Wrecker would have to have a ministry? I don't think they have a ministry for shipwrecks?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    Can UUP approach TUV and ask them to join up with them for the purpose of getting 2 depts?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    Very good ManOfPie, seems very convenient. My previous comment asked whether Elliot would consider it fair game if Martin McGuinness called the British army 'scum' at an election count? Given the behaviour of the army here, I would say it is fair game. There were quite a number of armed groups on all sides; Tom should know he was a member of one. Time to move on Tom, both your position and views!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    It will be fascinating to see Sinn Feins United Ireland stragedy implode if they get their half hearted call for a Referendum. It will be great entertainment all the same.

 

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