Unlike pressure groups, political parties exist to fight elections. But that doesn’t always happen.
Next month supporters of two pro-Union parties – NI21 and the PUP – will not be able to vote for those parties anywhere in Northern Ireland.
And the Northern Ireland Labour Party will once again not be standing any candidates as the party’s London leadership bans its members from standing for elections in the Province.
PUP leader Billy Hutchinson blamed a lack of funds for his party’s decision not to stand even a single candidate in any of the 18 seats. He said “the cost of running election campaigns three years in a row was, in the end, too great for our financial resources” .
NI21, which last year appeared to have fallen apart, has said that it will continue as a party but has not explained why it is not contesting seats. Leader Basil McCrea could not be contacted as he is on holiday.
Moved home? Get registered to vote
Only 40 per cent of the 7.5 million people who moved home in the last 12 months may be registered to vote, according to Electoral Commission research.
This compares to 93 per cent of those who have lived in the same place for 16 years or more. Similarly, only 63 per cent of those who rent privately are registered to vote, compared to 94 per cent of those who own their own homes.
Martin Lewis, the entrepreneur and self-styled ‘money saving expert’, said: “Forget buying a house, a car, a mobile phone – the biggest consumer decision we all make in our lives is choosing a government. And if you don’t use your right to vote – or at worst spoil your ballot as a statement – then you’ve no right to whinge when it goes wrong.”
One week to secure postal or proxy vote
Voters unable to make it to the polling station on May 7 have until next Thursday (April 16) to apply to vote by post or proxy.
To secure such a vote in absentia, voters must provide a valid reason – such as a pre-booked holiday, business trip or disability – as to why they can’t make it to the polling station.
Application forms are available from the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland’s website www.eoni.org.uk or by calling its electoral helpline on 0800 4320 712.
Send us details of your hustings events
This column will attempt to keep readers up to date on as many hustings events being held across Northern Ireland as possible.
Although some of the big battleground constituencies will feature in TV debates, in many seats voters will only be able to question candidates at local events where they can set out their stall.
If you are organising a public hustings event for candidates in your constituency, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02890 897722.
Please include the venue, time and the names of the candidates who have been invited and those who have agreed to attend.