2016 election: South Belfast looking wide open on May 5

Queen's University Belfast
Queen's University Belfast

South Belfast is arguably the least predictable – and therefore the most politically exciting – constituency in this election.

Astonishingly, not one of the 18 candidates standing for election was elected as an MLA five years ago.

However, co-options since then mean that four candidates – Fearghal McKinney, Claire Hanna, Emma Little Pengelly and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir – have served for a period as MLAs.

A constituency which is among the Province’s most affluent and least volatile, it nevertheless has some traditionally working class areas, though many of these have increasingly been transformed by immigration.

That migrant vote was key to Anna Lo’s success in building this into a stronghold for Alliance. Although she is now retiring, the party ought to be taking a second seat, though it faces a strong challenge from the Greens’ Claire Bailey.

Standing as the sole Sinn Fein candidate, Mr Ó Muilleoir is likely to top the poll while he UUP really needs Rodney McCune to retain Michael McGimpsey’s old seat.

Don’t rule out the possibility of two senior party figures losing out to more junior colleagues.

The SDLP’s Claire Hanna and the DUP’s Christopher Stalford are established local councillors in a way that more senior colleagues Fearghal McKinney and Emma Little Pengelly (facing a very personal challenge from Ruth Patterson) are not.

In a seat as open as this, at least one candidate expected to get in is likely to lose out.

See here for profiles of more election constituencies.

2016 CANDIDATES:

• Brigitte ‘Gitty’ Anton (NI Labour Representation Committee)

• Clare Bailey (Green)

• Paula Bradshaw (Alliance)

• Sean Burns (Cross-Community Labour Alternative)

• Billy Dickson (Sout Belfast Unionists)

• Claire Hanna (SDLP)

• John Andrew Hiddleston (TUV)

• Lily Kerr (Workers Party)

• Emma Little Pengelly (DUP)

• Ben Manton (Cons.)

• Rodney McCune (UUP)

• Fearghal McKinney (SDLP)

• Duncan Morrow (Alliance)

• Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (SF)

• Ruth Patterson (Ind.)

• Ian Shanks (PUP)

• Christopher Stalford (DUP)

• Bob Stoker (UKIP)

RESULTS OF 2011 ELECTION:

Anna Lo (Alliance) 6,390 (19.8%)

Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) 4,527 (14.0%)

Jimmy Spratt (DUP) 4,045 (12.5%)

Alex Maskey (SF) 4,038 (12.5%)

Ruth Patterson (DUP) 3,800 (11.8%)

Conall McDevitt (SDLP) 3,191 (9.9%)

Michael McGimpsey (UUP) 2,988 (9.2%)

Mark Finlay (UUP) 1,394 (4.3%)

Clare Bailey (Green) 889 (2.8%)

Brian Faloon (People Before Profit Alliance) 414 (1.3%)

Paddy Meehan (Socialist Party) 234 (0.7%)

Nico Torregrosa (UKIP) 234 (0.7%)

Paddy Lynn (Workers Party) 135 (0.4%)

Charles Smyth (Pro-Capitalist) 29 (0.1%)