Sunday, June 11, 2017

Unionist High Water Mark?

A snap Westminster election has resulted in a minority Conservative UK government dependent on a "supply and confidence" agreement with the DUP. Having secured 10 seats in the North it is enough to bring the Torys over the 326 seats needed for a majority.

As always this blog is concerned about the impact in Ireland and the Nationalist strength in the north of the country. There was almost identical turnout among the two communities in the March Assembly election which brought an end to a period of Nationalist voter apathy. Unionists responded with a surge in turnout, an additional 50,000 votes bringing their total to 395,000 votes.

Given that the March Assembly result left only 1,200 votes between the DUP and SF and some 20,000 votes between Nationalism and Unionism this election was portrayed by the DUP as a vote for the Union. If Unionism could not bring out it's voters in mass in this election it never will. And this is why I believe this is the high water mark for Unionism. 400,000 votes is required to beat Unionism on their best day.

The SDLP and UUP have been left with no seats. SF won 7 seats and the DUP won 10. The independent Unionist Sylvia Hermon won the other. Of course if the SDLP had accepted the will of the Nationalist people and responded to the Unionist pact, North and South Belfast would not have gone to the DUP. They got their answer on that one.

The DUP will not agree to the SF demand for implementation of previous agreements before Stormont can be reinstated. Therefore another Assembly election is likely in the near future as is another Westminster election for that matter. The possibility of the Nationalist vote exceeding the Unionist vote in one of these is there. As always turnout will be key. If not in 2017/2018 it will happen as some stage in the immediate future and calls for a Unity Referendum cannot be ignored. Interesting times ahead!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Crocodile Rock

Well this has been coming. The premise of this blog is that demographic change will be translated into political change. We had not seen this in the elections cycle from 2014 to 2016 due to Nationalist voter apathy. However Nationalists have awoken from their slumber. Turnout matched and slightly exceeded turnout of Unionists.

The result was 40 seats for Nationalists and 40 for Unionists. Not only did Unionism loose its majority in the Assembly, it lost a plurality. First preference votes showed Nationalism at 42% with Unionism at 44%. There was only 20k votes between Unionism and Nationalism and a mere 1,000 votes between the DUP and Sinn Fein. The times they are a changing.

The challenge for Nationalism now is to push on from this and not become complacent. There are still over 300k Catholics and 600k Protestants who did not vote for a Nationalist party. These are the people who should be targeted.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Labour Force Survey 2015

The Labour Force Survey for 2015 has been published. The LFS gives us an annual demographic breakdown of the working age population and general population from the age of 16. Although results can be erratic due to variances in the samples taken, the trends can be used to determine future voting patterns given the strong correlation between religion and political affiliation.

The 2015 report shows that for the first time, those from a Catholic community background make up a plurality of the working age population. Parity has been reached with those from a Protestant community background in all ages above the age of 16. Catholics are now in an overall majority in the 16-24 age cohort as opposed to just 35% in the over 60s.

Working Age Population
"In 2015, there was a higher proportion of Catholics among the working age population (46%) than Protestants (40%), with the remaining 14% reported as ‘other/non-determined’.

This is the first time in the time series presented in Figure 2.2 that Catholics amount for a higher proportion of the working age population.

In 1990, the religious composition of the working age population was 54% Protestant, 41% Catholic and 6% other/non-determined. Over this period, the number of Protestants of working age decreased by 5% (from 495,000 to 469,000), the number of working age Catholics increased by 44% (from 375,000 to 538,000), and the number of those classified as ‘other/non-determined’ trebled (from 53,000 to 159,000)."

Population Aged 16+
"The proportion of Protestants has fallen by 12 percentage points between 1990 and 2015, from 56% to 44%, while the proportion of Catholics has increased by six percentage points, from 38% to 44%, over this same period. The proportion of the population classified as ‘other/non-determined’ has doubled (from 6% to 12%) over this period.

Between 1990 and 2015 the number of Protestants aged 16 and over decreased by
10,000, or 2%, to 633,000, while the number of Catholics increased by 193,000, or 44%, to 633,000 over the same period. The number of people aged 16 and over classified as
‘other/non-determined’ has almost trebled from 63,000 to 180,000 over this period."

Population Aged 16-24
"The proportion of this age group who reported as Protestant has decreased
between 1990 and 2015 (from 49% to 36%), while the proportion of Catholics increased
(from 44% to 51%), and the proportion classified as ‘other/non-determined’ has almost doubled, from 7% to 13%, over the same period.

Between 1990 and 2015, the number of Protestants in this age group has decreased by 38,000 (33%) from 116,000 to 78,000. The number of Catholics has increased slightly over this period, from 105,000 to 109,000 (4%). The largest proportionate increase was among those classified as ‘other/non-determined’; from 16,000 in 1990 to 29,000 in 2015."

Population Aged 60+
"The proportion of this age group who identified as Protestant has decreased from 66% in 1990 to 57% in 2015, while the proportion of Catholics has increased, from 30% to 35%, over this same period. Five per cent of those aged 60 and over were classified as ‘other/non-determined’ in 1990; by 2015 this proportion had increased to 8%.

There were 166,000 Protestants aged 60 and over in 1990 and this had increased to
212,000 by 2015. The number of Catholics in this age group increased from 76,000 to
132,000 over the same period. The 11,000 who were aged 60 and over classified as
‘other/non-determined’ in 1990 had almost trebled to 30,000 by 2015."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Irish Unity Makes Economic Sense

Study by researchers who have examined German and Korean unification models shows long-term improvement of GDP per capita in the North of 4 to 7.5 percent, while the Republic would see a boost of 0.7 to 1.2 percent.
At an evening presentation at the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan, two prominent scholars in the field of political science and economics released the findings of a landmark, first-ever economic study entitled Modeling Irish Unification, which showed significant long-term improvement in the stagnant Northern Irish economy would result from removing currency, trade and tax barriers that currently impede economic growth.
The report also showed improvements for theRepublic of Ireland, which would benefit from barrier-free access to the Northern Irish market. By modeling three separate unification scenarios, the researchers showed a long-term improvement of GDP per capita in the North of 4 to 7.5 percent, while the Republic of Irelandwould see a boost of 0.7 to 1.2 percent.
The report presents the first comprehensive economic models simulating the political and economic integration of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The study is particularly timely given current debates over Irish economic growth and the U.K.'s continued participation in the European Union. Three unification scenarios were presented, with the most aggressive estimating a 35.6 billion Euroboost in an all-island GDP in the first eight years of unification.
Representatives of government, the financial sector and international relations communities attended the event.
The research was led by Dr. Kurt Hubner, professor of political science, Jean Monnet Chair for European Integration and Global Political Economy and Director of the Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Hubner directed the research through his firm KLC – Consulting for Tomorrow, an economic and political relations consulting firm based in Vancouver. The economic model was developed by Dr. Renger Herman van Nieuwkoop, Director and Founder of ModelWorks and professor of economics at ETH Zurich.
"Our modeling exercise points to strong positive unification effects driven by successful currency devaluation and a policy dependent industrial turn-around," said Dr. Hubner. "While these effects occur in a static global economic environment, under ideal political conditions, they underline the potential of political and economic unification when it is supported by smart economic policy."
In the executive summary, Professor Steven Raphael, UC Berkeley, wrote: "Political and economic unification of the North and South would likely result in a sizable boost in economic output and incomes in the North and a smaller boost in the [Republic of Ireland]."
Marcus Noland, Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, provided comment on the study, writing: "Modeling Irish Unification is an important, timely examination of the economics of Irish unification, applying state-of-the-art modeling techniques to the issue at hand. The modeling work illustrates a variety of channels which are likely to be at play in the Irish case, and concludes that Irish unification would be economically beneficial to both parts of the island, especially for smaller, poorer,Northern Ireland."
After Dr. Hubner and Dr. van Nieuwkoop'sconcluded their remarks, Michael Burke, economic consultant and former Senior International Economist at Citibank in London, discussed the global impact of a unifiedIreland.
"The issue of the benefits of a unified Irish economy are unfortunately largely overlooked," said Burke. "This paper goes some way to correcting that and will help develop discussion in this neglected area."
The study was commissioned by K.R.B., a San Francisco Bay area–based nonprofit social welfare organization that promotes social welfare and conflict resolution through education.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lucid Talk Tracker Poll - December 2016

Lucid Talk have published their latest Tracker Poll.

The polls are regular 'Tracker' polls of the established LT Northern Ireland Opinion Panel (now over 5,000 members). The LucidTalk Opinion Panel consists of Northern Ireland residents (age 18+) and is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland.

Most interestingly the poll shows support for Irish Unity in the North at 44.4%. This is significantly higher than the 41% in the 2015 RTE/BBC poll. Brexit is clearly a game changer.

The other significant thing that happened over the last year was the publication of an independent report 'Modelling Irish Reunification' in which findings by Dr. Kurt Hubner concluded that Unification was by far the best option economically for both parts of the island and would provide a boost to GDP of €35.6 billion over 8 years.