Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland – local elections highlight the long slow death of the UUP

BY Owen Polley   /  9 May 2019

In England, voters used last week’s local elections to express frustration with the two biggest parties, the Conservatives and Labour. Many outgoing councillors felt that they’d lost their seats because their leaders at Westminster failed to deliver on Brexit and other important issues.

In Northern Ireland, where the power-sharing government has not met for nearly eighteen months, the DUP and Sinn Féin were relatively unscathed by voters’ anger. The success of the Alliance Party and the Greens attracted a good deal of attention, but their strong performances did not come at the expense of the larger parties.

The DUP lost a handful of seats, thanks to the vagaries of the single transferable vote system, but it won 24.1 per cent of first preference votes – a 1 per cent improvement on its showing in 2014. Sinn Féin actually won more council seats than previously, though its share of first preference votes fell slightly, by 0.8 per cent to 23.2 per cent.