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!