Tuesday 11 May 2010

Proportional representation

One of the unexpected outcomes of last week’s Westminster election in Northern Ireland was that the result was extremely proportional. In general the first-past-the-post system does not lend itself well to proportionality, but by chance the results last week were very close to what would be achieved by a PR system – as far as the major blocks are concerned, at any rate.

  • Unionism won 50.5% of the vote, and won 50% of the seats.
  • Nationalism won 42.0% of the vote, and won 44.4% of the seats.
  • The Alliance party won 6.3% of the vote, and won 5.6% of the seats.

Within the blocks there was some proportionality too – Sinn Féin, with 60% of the nationalist vote, won 62.5% of the nationalist seats – the SDLP with 40% of the nationalist vote won 37.5% of the nationalist seats.

Only within unionism was there a distinct lack of proportionality. The DUP, with 50% of the unionist vote, won 8 out of its 9 seats (89%). The UCUNF, with 30% of the unionist vote, won precisely nothing. The ninth unionist seat was won, of course, by Sylvia Hermon, who won 6.2% of the unionist vote – but this was concentrated in one constituency.

The lesson appears to be that chance can also lead to a proportional outcome, but will not necessarily do so.


Ciarán said...

This probably suggests that repartition of NI, some of the southern counties rejoining Ireland, would be quite possible... if it wasn't for the fact that doing so would probably erase any hopes of an entirely United Ireland without a complete dissolution of the UK (possible) and the tricky situation of Belfast (almost unworkable..)

Nobody is going to want a situation with the Alliance governing Belfast and it acting as some kind of joint capital, a sort of Jerusalem like proposal.

Anonymous said...

Horseman :

Many people would put the Alliance party in the unionist camp - thus making it almost 57 % of the vote for unionism.

- Munsterman