Analysis: Nationalism Sweeps Scotland, but Loses Ground in Ulster

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), May 9, 2015 | Go to article overview

Analysis: Nationalism Sweeps Scotland, but Loses Ground in Ulster


Electoral analysis, by News Letter politics correspondent Sam McBride

For the UK, this was a bad election for unionism as the surge towards the SNP swept Scotland for nationalism.

But in Northern Ireland, it was a good night for unionism, which won back two seats -- one from Sinn Fein and one from Alliance.

Within unionism, the UUP will be by far the happiest. Having been widely written off five years ago when for the first time in its history the party failed to elect a single MP, even one victory would have been a big turnaround. But to elect two is a massive boost -- not just to morale, but to party finances as a second MP brings significant additional Westminster funding.

The DUP will be content with the result, which came after a horrendous final three weeks to its campaign.

Suggestions that the party's vote would implode over Jim Wells's comments about homosexuality proved utterly wrong and even Mr Wells' own vote was barely down despite him hardly campaigning because of his wife's illness.

Comparing the DUP's vote with its performance five years ago (removing the pact seats and North Down, which it did not contest in 2010), it polled almost precisely the same vote as in 2010.

For both main unionist parties, this is a vindication of their pact -- both have benefited; and, despite the near-universal belief that Mike Nesbitt negotiated a poor deal for his party, the UUP has arguably benefited the most.

It was a bad night for the TUV -- in fact, a worse night than five years ago when some in the party believed that it was finished after its 10 candidates took just 26,000 votes.

This time, the party stood seven candidates but the vote fell significantly to just over 16,000. …

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