Local anarchist group Organise! on the Northern Ireland Assembly and Council Elections 2011.
While Paisley junior, who before the election thought turnout may not be as low as predicted went on to excuse the low turnout by saying it was part of the normalisation of politics and that voter decision is not based on the latest atrocity. So its a good thing. And yes in a way we have to agree. Although going back to 1945 its been more consistent that Northern Ireland has a lower turnout in Westminster elections and in the last one (2010) people here bucked the trend of increasing turnout in England, Scotland and Wales.
The largest section of the electorate voted for none of the candidates standing – and this election, at council and assembly level there appeared to be more choice than ever before. While some canny lads and lasses are obviously of the opinion that they were worthy of our votes and worthy of leading us the majority have decidedly pooh-poohed their ambitions and hopefully poured cold water all over their illusions.
Returning to the Assembly results the DUP are reckoned to be the big winners – with the King of East Belfast returned, despite his rather tarnished crown, on the first count and sitting in Stormont with 37 more of his colleagues. They have certainly done better than expected by the predictors of a Sinn Fein majority (the shinners got 29 seats). However out of an eligible electorate of 61263 (and remember we aren't all registered to vote), a turn out of 53.59% (32347 valid and 481 invalid or spoiled votes) his 9149 votes still has Peter, the most voted for MLA in the Pravince, returned by only 14.93% of the electoral – so 85% of the electorate didn't want him. And just under 46.5% of the electors in East Belfast didn't vote for anyone.
The turnout in the Assembly elections varied somewhat from one constituency to another. In North Belfast, excluding spoilt and invalid votes cast the turnout was 49.13%, in South Belfast 51.7%, in West Belfast 56.32%, East Antrim 47.1%, East Londonderry 53.23%, Fermanagh & South Tyrone 67.61%, Foyle 56.58%, Lagan Valley 52.55%, Mid Ulster 64.1%, Newry & Armagh 59.98%, North Antrim 53.92%, North Down 45.2%, South Antrim 49.31%, Strangford 47.71%, Upper Bann 54.95% and West Tyrone 62.42%. While better stats are required to go into much depth it appears obvious that more people in 'nationalist' areas were mobilised to vote, and it wouldn't appear that it was the SDLP who met with much success there.
Overall out of an 'eligible electorate' of 1,143,407 only 621,421 'valid votes' were cast – which means 45.65% on average across the Pravince voted for none of our illustrious leaders sat up at Stormont. The Assembly election also returned a total 12,374 of invalid and spoilt votes, more than the total amount of first preference votes any of the candidates received.
While we aren't claiming that everyone who spoilt their ballot, refused to vote, or who simply wasn't 'inspired' enough by any of our wannabe political leaders to get out of bed, is a dyed in the wool anarchist it is clear that, on a constituency basis, up to 54.8% of the 'eligible electorate' see little to no means of making any sort of impact on their day to day lives by voting for any of these clampits in this electoral spectacle that is passed of as democracy. This is not a massive victory for 'apathy' it is a massive victory for common sense. All the main parties are committed to cuts, now of the fringe groups or independents, including lefty ones will ever effect positive change for the working class on the back of an election campaign (successful or otherwise). Now that all the parties have been overwhelmingly rejected its time to start building effective resistance to cuts and effective opposition to capital and the state.