Another Communal Headcount: The Election in Northern Ireland

Tonge, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0002-4350-9101 and Evans, Jocelyn
(2015) Another Communal Headcount: The Election in Northern Ireland. Parliamentary Affairs, 68 (Suppl_). 117 - 132.

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The Westminster election in Northern Ireland attracted more interest beyond the region than is normally the case. This was not because of healthy new attention being paid to the polity's regular communal (to critics, sectarian) bloc headcount. Rather, it was because the contest's outcome might influence the formation of a minority government at Westminster. This possibility was actively discussed even into election night results programmes, after the exit poll predicted the Conservatives to fall just short of an overall majority, with 316 seats. As that seat tally rose, Northern Ireland's election slid back to its default positions of obscurity and parochial communalism. Religious community background remained easily the most important voting determinant. Unionist electoral pacts in four constituencies heightened the prevailing sense of a traditional Orange versus Green contest, one in which the Alliance Party, aligned to neither bloc, lost its solitary representative. Turnout was a very modest 58%, well below the UK average. Only Sinn Fein, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Alliance contested all 18 constituencies. Nonetheless, the contest was not entirely bereft of interest. There were significant arguments over a disparate array of topics ranging from welfare reform to that of same-sex marriage, still banned in Northern Ireland. Four seats changed hands and the once-dominant Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) recovered some recent lost ground to regain Westminster representation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Northern Ireland, Elections, Voting
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 14:24
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2021 15:38
DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsv031
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