Transferred votes in the March 2017 Assembly Election

Share

Transferred votes are an extremely important part of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. In the 2017 Assembly Election, only 18 MLAs had a sufficient number of first preference votes to meet the quota and to be elected at the first count; the remaining 72 were elected at a later stage and required transferred votes. This post examines how votes were transferred between parties.

Reference volumes on political theory in the Assembly Library

The importance of transfers in the 2017 Election was highlighted in the following constituencies:

  • Belfast South – where the Green Party took a seat with the help of SDLP transfers;
  • East Antrim – where the UUP took a seat with the help of DUP transfers;
  • East Londonderry – where the SDLP took a seat with the help of UUP transfers;
  • Fermanagh and South Tyrone – where the UUP took a seat with the help of SDLP transfers;
  • Lagan Valley – where the SDLP took a seat with the help of UUP transfers; and,
  • Upper Bann – where the SDLP took a seat with the help of UUP transfers.

Results in the remaining 12 constituencies went in favour of the five candidates with the highest number of first preference votes (i.e. transfers did not ultimately change the outcome in those constituencies).

A total of 166,134 votes were transferred during the 2017 Election count. A large proportion of these transfers (25%) were treated collectively during the counting process and cannot be attributed to individual parties. The percentages quoted below are not therefore definitive and merely provide an indication of transfers between parties based on what we can identify from the Electoral Office data:

  • Of the parties elected, the DUP received most transferred votes (26%), followed by the UUP (23%), SDLP (18%), Alliance (12%), Sinn Féin (10%), People Before Profit Alliance (3%), Green Party (3%) and TUV (2%).
  • Most of the UUP’s transfers came from other UUP candidates (23%), the DUP (14%), SDLP (10%) and Alliance (8%).
  • Most of the DUP’s transfers came from other DUP candidates (32%), UUP (23%) and Alliance (13%).
  • Most of Sinn Féin’s transfers came from the SDLP (41%), other Sinn Féin candidates (25%), Alliance (7%) and People Before Profit Alliance (6%).
  • Most of the SDLP’s transfers came from the UUP (24%), Sinn Féin (15%) and the Alliance Party (11%). Only 2% came from other SDLP candidates.
  • Most of the Alliance Party’s transfers came from the SDLP (20%), UUP (11%), other Alliance Party candidates (11%), and the Green Party (11%).
  • Most of the Green Party’s transfers came from the SDLP (20%), the Alliance Party (17%), Sinn Féin (8%) and independents (8%).
  • Most of the TUV’s transfers came from the DUP (32%).
  • Most of the People Before Profit Alliance’s transfers came from the SDLP (39%) and Sinn Féin (6%).

For more detailed analysis, see Research and Information Service Briefing Note 2017 Assembly Election: Transferred Votes, which is also supplemented by Election Report: Northern Ireland Assembly Election, 2 March 2017.

Share