Election 2017: South Belfast is seriously splintered constituency

The Palm House in Botanic Gardens, south Belfast
The Palm House in Botanic Gardens, south Belfast

To get an idea of how splintered the electoral preferences are in South Belfast, consider these two facts.

In the Westminster 2015 election, Alasdair McDonnell was elected on the lowest ever share of the vote for a successful MP in the UK (24.5%).

This was because the SDLP man’s opposition was divided between six candidates that polled well: DUP, Sinn Fein, Alliance, Green and Ukip.

Last year, similar splintering between different party candidates meant South Belfast returned the largest number of different parties from any one constituency – five parties taking the six seats (the DUP got two). It would have been six parties if Rodney McCune for the UUP had taken 500 votes off the DUP’s Christopher Stalford to win the last seat. Mr McCune is not running this time but even so, Mr Stalford will be in a fight to hold on to a second DUP seat now there are only five seats.

The DUP is not the only party running two candidates this time – Alliance and SDLP are too but both are unlikely to get a second MLA. That Sinn Fein is only fielding Mairtin O Muilleoir means he should top the poll, like last time.

Clare Bailey is hoping to hold a seat for the Greens.

Other candidates include Syrian-born Tory George Jabbour – fitting for NI’s most ethnically-diverse constituency.

2017 candidates:

Clare Bailey (Green)

Paula Bradshaw (Alliance)

Sean Burns (Cross-Community Labour Alternative)

Naomh Gallagher (SDLP)

Claire Hanna (SDLP)

Michael Henderson (UUP)

John Andrew Hiddleston (TUV)

George Jabbour (Cons)

Lily Kerr (Workers Party)

Emma Little Pengelly (DUP)

Emmet McDonough-Brown (Alliance)

Padraigin Mervyn (People Beofre Profit)

Mairtin O Muilleoir (Sinn Fein)

Christopher Stalford (DUP)

2016 results:

• Mairtin O Muilleoir (SF) 5,207 (14.2%)

• Claire Hanna (SDLP) 4,516 (12.3%)

• Emma Little Pengelly (DUP) 4,511 (12.3%)

• Christopher Stalford (DUP) 3,570 (9.7%)

• Clare Bailey (Green) 3,521 (9.6%)

• Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) 3,332 (9.1%)

Fearghal McKinney (SDLP) 2,845 (7.7%)

D Morrow (Alliance) 2,691 (7.3%)

R McCune (UUP) 2,466 (6.7%)

Sean Burns (Cross-Community Labour Alternative) 871 (2.4%)

Bob Stoker (UKIP) 794 (2.2%)

J Hiddleston (TUV) 495 (1.3%)

Ruth Patterson (Ind) 475 (1.3%)

Ian Shanks (PUP) 430 (1.2%)

Billy Dickson (South Belfast Unionists) 351 (1%)

Brigitte Anton (NI Labour) 246

Lily Kerr (Workers Party) 241

Ben Manton (Conservative) 161

Electorate 68,469

Votes cast 37,147 (54.3%)