Friday, March 19, 2010

It's a pro-Union majority, no longer a Unionist one.

Alex Kane from last week, in a piece, lamenting the strategic weakness of N.Irish Unionism:
Also, there's a section of unionism (between 100,000 and 175,000) which doesn't vote. In other words, there is utter confusion. For as long as that confusion remains unionist unity is impossible.
I’m not sure where he digs those figures up from but this (bearing in mind all the usual caveats about opinion polls) is perhaps a pointer:
If there was a referendum about a United Ireland, 55% of respondents said they would vote for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, while 36% would vote for the north and south to unite. Significantly 26% of Catholics would want Northern Ireland to remain in the UK. In contrast only 6% of Protestants have an interest in a United Ireland.
55% of the present electorate equals 630,000 folk approximately.

The total Unionist vote in the last three elections (pre the Euros which had a typically unrepresentative below-average turnout):

329,826 (Assembly)
371,888 (Westminster)
310,868 (District Council)

The Pro Irish “Unity” segment of the population equals, according to the poll, 36%, translating to 411,112 potential voters for the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

The total Irish “Unity” vote in the last three elections:

285,737 (Assembly)
300,156 (Westminster)
285,196 (District Council)


Rather obviously:

1.The Unionist parties are in no way capitalizing on the size of the pro-Union sentiment.
2.The Nationalist vote reflects much more accurately the corresponding “United Ireland” constitutional preference.

Does it matter, in the long run, that whilst a clear majority of the population remains pro-Union, only 30-35 % are still bothering to vote for Unionist parties?

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