Yesterday the review of the Parliamentary boundaries for the next general election kicked off – not that there is much to see yet. The English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Boundary Commissions announced the beginning of the review, the electorate figures which they’ll be working off, and the number of seats that each country and region will be divided up into.

The review will be based on the same new rules as the review that was abandoned during the last Parliament. The amendment passed by Labour and the Lib Dems didn’t reverse the changes that the government had made to the rules on boundary reviews, they just delayed the next review for five years. This means the new review starts up now and will report in 2018, ready to be implemented for the 2020 election. This is not a case of the aborted review from the last Parliament being implemented, it’s a brand new review based on updated electorate numbers. However in terms of the broad strokes the proposals will be quite similar.

The boundary review will reduce the number of seats from 650 to 600, and go from boundaries based on 2001 electorates to boundaries based on 2015 electorates. Comparing the current boundaries to proposed new ones there will be some very substantial changes – it’s inevitable when fifty seats are being chopped. Comparing the numbers to what would have happened under the aborted review in the last Parliament the changes will be more modest.

Scotland will see its current 59 seats fall to 53 (compared to 52 in the aborted review), Wales will see its seat numbers fall from 40 to 29 (compared to 30 in the aborted review), Northern Ireland will get 17 seats (compared to 18 currently, 16 in the aborted review). Across the English regions the South East and East will lose 1 seat each, the East Midlands will lose 2 seats, North East 4, Yorkshire 4, London 5, West Midlands 6 and the North West 7. In most cases these figures are the same as the aborted review – the differences are that the West Midlands will lose an extra seat (probably in the Metropolitan area), the Eastern region will lose one less seat (it looks to me like Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire will no longer require a cross-county seat and the loss there will no longer happen, so Nadine Dorries will be reprieved) and the North East will lose an extra seat.

My calculations last year were that if the 2015 election had been fought on the boundaries from the aborted review it would have given the Conservatives a majority of 44. The Tories would have won nine fewer seats, Labour 28 fewer, the SNP six fewer and the Lib Dems just four. The impact of this new boundary review will likely be broadly similar, but perhaps a little worse for Labour: the extra seat reductions in the North East and West Midlands are likely to be Labour, the relative gains in the East Midlands and Scotland will be Conservative and SNP.

Those won’t the only differences though – we’ve had five years of population drift and the change in registration since then, so many of the proposals the boundary commissions made in 2012 would no longer add up anyway. Unavoidably, the detailed proposals will be different from what we saw in 2012. These won’t be extra seats created or abolished, just boundaries drawn in different ways. To give a couple of examples –

Coventry currently has three seats, and at the aborted review it still had just the right population to retain three seats for itself. Its electorate has now fallen to the point where it’s impossible to draw three seats that hit quota, so while there will still be three seats covering Coventry, one will have to take in some wards from outside Coventry, I’d guess from Warwickshire.

University seats saw a particular drop in the number of registered electors from the move to individual registration, so Cambridge constituency as it was previously proposed will no longer be large enough. There will still almost certainly be a Cambridge seat, but it will now probably cover the whole of the Cambridge council area and have to include a ward from outside Cambridge to make up the numbers.

Other areas where the electorate has dropped notably since the aborted boundary review include Blackpool, Leeds, Oxford, Kensington, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Carlisle and Newcastle. In places like these proposals will probably be substantially different to the aborted review – boundaries will need to move outwards, or the Commissions will choose to arrange the boundaries in completely different ways. At the other end of the scale, the electorate is notably higher in places like East Devon, Bedfordshire, Thanet, Greenwich and Bermondsey, so movement there is likely to be in the opposite direction.

In some cases those small adjustments will have a domino effect and require big changes through a whole county to make sure everything is in quota (though it is has been suggested that the English boundary commission will be more willing to split wards, making their task easier and – hopefully – avoiding some of the dafter proposals we saw last time). Even where there are small changes they may have party partisan effects here and there, making seats that little bit better or worse for parties, tipping the occasional marginal into the other column.

We won’t have any further details until the Commissions release their initial proposals, expected to be in September. At that point we will be able to start working out notional figures and coming up with detailed estimates of what the partisan impact of the boundary changes will be.


203 Responses to “The new boundary review gets going”

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  1. @Neil A – I read somewhere (quite a while ago) about a study into NINo’s that suggested we have several million of them that are suspected as being fraudulent, and that this undermines the notion that welfare fraud is relatively limited.

    The study suggested that several million of the 80m odd NINo’s that are registered are for fictitious people, builoding up pension records, etc. Not sure of the source now but it called for a complete restart of the NI system.

  2. The MPs should be allocated according to all people in any constituency that is by census (which should be done every 10 years minimum).

    This is because MPs have to represent all people in their consitituency – not just those who voted for them, not just those who voted at all, not even just those who registered to vote, they even represent those who cannot vote like children, incarcerated felons or the mentally incapacitated. They represent them all, what their voting status is should be irrelevant to the calculation.

    All this political manouvering over the boundaries every so often is pretty much always shoddy.

  3. There’s now a second exit poll from RTE, “carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, was conducted among a sample of 4,283 voters around the country who were interviewed immediately after they had voted in the General Election yesterday”.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0227/771143-general-election-saturday/

    FG 24.8%

    FF 21.1%

    SF 16%

    Labour 7.1%

    Independents 11%

    AAA-PBP 4.7%

    Soc Dem 3.7%

    GP 3.6%

    Ind All 3%

    Renua 2.4%

    Others 2.6%

    If correct, it also shows that, rather than the polls underestimating FG and there being a ‘running back to Mummy’ effect, polling has actually overestimated FG, mainly at the expense of others[1].

    Of course these raw figures are only the start. It is how the Parties and individuals do in each of Ireland’s 40 constituencies that really matters[2]. If votes for smaller parties are evenly spread they won’t win seats – if they are concentrated in a handful of constituencies they will. Then there is the matter of how votes will transfer between candidates and how effective the larger Parties are at ‘vote management’ (last time FG were brilliant at this – they may not be so clever or lucky this time).

    [1] The non-‘big’ four in the above total 31, making them the largest ‘party’. It’s not so much a ‘long tail’ as a boa constrictor.

    [2] To complicate matters there has been a comprehensive boundary re-drawing and reduction in the number of seats and TDs.

  4. Jonathan
    I agree with your point for the most part but I personally believe the constituencies should be based off of the number of ELIGIBLE voters thus no children or prisoners. It would be simple enough to filter these groups out when calculating population.

    Though for what its worth even if we did count children and prisoners it would produce less anomalies than the electoral register currently does. Prisoners are too small a demographic to have any real impact, as for children they (like genders) are very evenly distributed across the country, no seat has a alarmingly small/large number of children. This is not true however for most other demographics. We spend a great deal of time talking about how party X won seat A thanks to the large student/elderly/public sector/renting/ethnic minority/wealthy/poor population. Thus if certain demographics are more/less likely to be registered (something we know to be true) it can produce some highly anomalous seats since there is very often a concentration of said demographic in one area.

  5. “The 1970 Hungarian census was very pleasant for me.”

    That’s what I love about UKPR – some great, great lines!

  6. Fascinating to see the G20 issue a statement about the potential economic impact of Brexit.

    Personally, I find this odd. It’s not out of the question that markets could be sufficiently spooked by a leave vote to go into meltdown, but I think if the G20 could try to remain more balanced, and perhaps issue a statement about the potential global shock that has been and will again been caused by the terminally defective Eurozone, or the schlerotic economic management of the EU, it would be a bit less blatant.

  7. I really don’t see why individual registration is such a problem. The form is a lot simpler than the census form, and therefore more likely to be completed accurately, I would have thought.

    My theory is that it was brought in to combat the fact that some households were were having their postal votes all filled in by one person. This could still happen I suppose, but it is a bit less likely than it was.

  8. Yes yes pete, so you often say even when asked not to.

  9. @Jonathan,

    In point of fact I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that MPs “have to represent all people in their constituency”.

    Ours is a representative democracy. The political power belongs to all those who have the vote, not to everyone who lives in the country. Some people (children, foreign nationals, prisoners) are specifically excluded from having a share of that political power.

    Because having millions of people wielding their political power on a daily basis would be impractical, we have a representative body of elected politicians to wield it on our behalf.

    The core function of an MP is to use that pooled power as they see fit, using their judgement but keeping the views of the electors in their constituency in mind.

    Anyone living in their constituency who has no vote has not given over their tiny piece of political power to the MP, and is therefore not represented by the MP.

    The fact that MPs generally consider themselves de facto social workers, advocates and general do gooders for all people living in their constituency is a matter for them (born I think of a combination of a desire to help and a desire to get the good publicity that will secure their reelection). I don’t believe we should tinker with our boundary methodology to reflect something that isn’t strictly the role of an MP.

    Having said that, I’m a firm believer in PR and therefore I think worrying out the size of constituencies and whether they produce fair results is missing the point for me.

  10. “The political power belongs to all those who have the vote, not to everyone who lives in the country. Some people (children, foreign nationals, prisoners) are specifically excluded from having a share of that political power.”

    ———

    Lol. Yes, power resides with those who vote. Some of it. This doesn’t mean politicians don’t represent others. Representation is a different thing.

    If you still can’t see the logic, police peeps, for example, do not confine their activities to those who vote, or even those who pay taxes.

    Also, if this still isn’t enough, there was a time when women didn’t have the vote. Did this absolve politicians from representing women? Hardly. And indeed, politicians voted to give them the vote in the end, thus representing them even before they had the vote

  11. Labour are getting pummelled in Ireland as generally expected. There’s some first counts nearing completion, and I haven’t seen any with them near the top; they’ll be relying heavily on transfers to keep some TD’s.

  12. As for power only residing with those who vote, this is to ignore the way other citizens can exrert some power through other actions, and even foreign nationals for example can affect the political process via financial power, lobbying, economic action, the media etc. etc.

    There is also…latent political power. Someone fifteen years old might not be able to vote in an election today, but they will down the line and may well vote in future taking into account what happened before.

  13. NEIL A

    In our human trafficking investigation we found that sometimes a foreign national would fly into the UK, register for a NINo and then fly out again, never to return.
    We haven’t really quite understood this yet. They didn’t do any work, claim any benefits or anything else. Not sure if it’s a sort of “sleeper” operation (creating a record of someone that can be used later).

    That’s fascinating. Could it be being used to establish identity in another EU jurisdiction or elsewhere? There’s certainly a lot of possibility for fraud explaining the discrepancy, though I was thinking more along the lines of EU nationals double registering (either for two simultaneous jobs or sequentially over a tax year) to avoid paying tax and NI. Dodging employers NI is another possibility. Benefits claims might be possible as well, though maybe more easily detected.

  14. @Carfrew,

    Yes there are other centres of power, certainly. But they shouldn’t (if the system is working properly) affect the way MPs vote in the Commons.

    Perhaps constituency boundaries should be based on the number of companies registered? Every street in the City should have its own MP and some poorer cities just one each?

  15. @Roger M,

    As I say, we haven’t worked out why yet. The people concerned were nationals of an East European EU state and were all of from a Roma family. So far we haven’t identified any actual economic benefit from creating the NINo.

  16. @Neil A

    Nah, no way!! Citizens should be able to exert influence on MPs even if they don’t have the power to vote. Whether lobbying, demonstrating, etc.. That’s partly how women got the vote.

    Whether a citizen should have DISPROPORTIONATE power, say through owning a big media outlet or making big donations is summat else.

  17. As I said on this site a few weeks ago Donald Trump could very well be the next US President. Yesterday Chris Christie, Republican Governor of New Jersey, and former Republican Presidential candidate endorsed Trump. He is the first mainstream and “centrist” Republican to endorse Trump.

    Hilary Clinton for all her credentials and experience simply does not excite Democrats, and has been observed elsewhere on this site the Republican Primaries are drawing out large numbers of voters compared to the Democrats.

  18. Mark W
    I’m impressed by your thoughtful, evidence-based observation.

  19. There seems to be a trend of smallish centre-left parties going into coalition with larger centre-right parties and then getting heavily punished at the following election. At this rate they’ll be forming an EU parliamentary grouping.

  20. @Andy,

    Chilling as it is, there’s something to what you say.

    The turnout figures for the primaries tell it all. Falling for the Democrats, rising significantly for the Republicans.

    I find myself in the peculiar position (for someone who doesn’t like or trust her) of wanting Clinton to be the next president of the USA, and I think on balance I still think she will be. But President Trump isn’t looking at all unlikely now.

  21. Watching the RTE feed of Irish election results on BBC Parliament.

    Seems like both Fine Gael and Fiannaa Fail are saying it’s up to the other party to try to form a Government.

  22. Absolutely fascinating watching the count in Dublin Bay South.

    At count 5 the two FG candidate has received 680 transferred votes, Labour 787 and FF 374. In contrast the Green and SF have received 3,190 between them.

    FG and FF have only obtained 49.8% of all first preferences, which with Labour reaches 56.4%. With only 61 of 158 seats decided so far it is going to be fascinating to see who decides to try and form government after the count is complete.

  23. Why don’t we just move the govt to google HQ in California. It seems to be there anyway.

  24. @Andy Shadrack

    “Hilary Clinton for all her credentials and experience simply does not excite Democrats, and has been observed elsewhere on this site the Republican Primaries are drawing out large numbers of voters compared to the Democrats.”

    So Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister at the next General Election it is then. :)

  25. Just seen a couple of graphs that illustrate how two-party politics is under pressure since 2007: across Europe (namely Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain) they”ve gone from approximately 75% to around 50% (much lower in Greece, for obvious reasons). In Ireland specifically it’s been in slow decline since early 80s (80%+) to now (50%).

    FF and FG are stubbornly level in terms of seats and support. I never saw that coming: that looks like the only viable government without resorting to someone trying to bring a whole bunch of smaller parties into government.

  26. Turns out Sanders outspent Hillary in South Carolina as well, and got crushed by 47%.

    I wonder if the real story of the US election is that people are sick to death of political advertising to the point where it’s putting them off.

    In the Republican race too, the person doing the lowest amount of TV advertising (Trump) is winning. Perhaps other forms of campaigning are coming back into vogue (rallies, town hall meetings, canvassing etc)

  27. @ Candy

    Yes in South Carolina Clinton obtained 80% of traditional Democrat voter support to Sanders 20%.

    But among non-traditional Democrats, Independents and former Republicans, Sanders lead Clinton 55% to 45%:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/elections/2016/primaries/democrat/south-carolina/?linkId=21718299

    Candidates who traditionally win the US Presidency, usually pull voters away from the other party and Independent group, like Ronald Reagan drew in Democrats to his Republican candidacy.

    So I’ll stick with my observation that Clinton has yet to show she can attract voters from outside of the the Democratic core.

  28. @Andy Shadrack

    I’d be very careful about national polls showing that Sanders can pull independents and republicans by being left of Clinton.

    For one thing Mrs C has refrained from any personal attacks on him and has concentrated on policy instead. For another, you have Karl Rove’s American Crossroads superpac running ads in favour of Sanders, in order to ensure he’s the one facing the republican candidate in Nov. See:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/23/bernie-sanders-s-conservative-fanboys.html

    If he gets the nomination they’ll turn and swift-boat him. His honeymoon in the soviet union will get a lot of air time. His essay on how he believes women fantasize about being raped will get a lot of air time. Probably lots of other stuff that they are holding back on will get a lot of air time.

    Mrs Clinton by contrast has been attacked pretty much every day for 25 years and is still standing…

  29. It’s quite handy this American election thing, innit. It’s not like ours, you get all these nominations and Super Tuesdays and stuff before you even get to the actual election proper. And Congress and Senate elected separately too.

    Whereas here, they’re reducing the number of MPs and increasing the Lords (who aren’t elected). Which is a bit dismal for those into political polling.

  30. Might get the odd mayor though!! Woohoo!!

  31. @carfrew

    And police commissioners and parish councils in England.

  32. @ Candy

    I am not talking about polling, I am talking about what happened in South Carolina in the Democratic Primary in the actual voting – presumably determined by exit polling.

    In the current Irish election count it looks as if non-traditional Independents, Sinn Fein, radical left and the Greens have taken the first seat, under STV, in 32.5% of the 40 seats.

    Currently the FG/Labour Coalition has retained 34.7% of the seats, the main opposition FF 29%, leaving 36.7% in the hands of assorted independents, Sinn Fein, the radical left wing and the Greens – so far, with 78.5% of the final results in.

    After a decade of economic stagnation, in which lower and middle income individuals and families have suffered disproportionally, voters are starting to be attracted to different options than the political status quo.

    I am just observing that Clinton does not appeal to some of those disaffected voters, who may or may not vote if she wins the Democratic nomination.

    Trump on the other hand, even if it is perceived by pundits and others as rhetoric, is motivating a portion of the Republican base that in my opinion does not normally engage.

    Election contests are about who can attract the largest base of support to the polls, and in Canada Trudeau persuaded a large number of younger voters to show up and vote.

    Clinton, to be effective, needs to focus on the positive message of change that Sanders has been using to motivate younger voters to turn out, but instead has been calling Sanders message “unrealistic”.

    What is “unrealsitic” for many voters, and that has come across in spades listening to the political chatter during the Irish election count, is that working families continue to pay the bill for an economic situation they had virtually no hand in creating.

  33. @Andy Shadrack

    Mrs C won SC by 73% to 26%. That 26% are important, but not as important as the majority.

    Also – we keep hearing about Sanders motivating “younger voters” – but it looks like this is just a sound bite from him. They didn’t bother to turn out and vote for him. The “young voters for Sanders” seem to be enough to fill a small hall for a speech, but when hundreds of thousands are voting, they are easily overwhelmed. Meanwhile Mrs C won every demographic apart from the under 24 year olds who were a small group.

  34. @ Candy

    You are missing my point completely.

    In South Carolina the Republican Primary drew out 737,017 voters compared to the Democrats drawing 367,491- that’s a pull for Republicans of 2:1.

    I do not dispute Clinton’s draw among traditional and committed Democrat voters, but the fact is Sanders drew 95,771 votes – which I do not believe the Democrat and Clinton campaigns should take for granted that they will turnout for her.

  35. Graham
    I’ve said as such in an earlier post. I’ll make an early prediction and guess that at least 5 Tory MP’s from Wales (out of 11) will vote against the new boundaries.

  36. This exit poll, I believe highlights the demographic problems that Clinton faces, that she needs to address through her campaign platform:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/02/27/us/elections/south-carolina-democrat-poll.html?_r=0

  37. KEITHP

    FF and FG are stubbornly level in terms of seats and support. I never saw that coming: that looks like the only viable government without resorting to someone trying to bring a whole bunch of smaller parties into government.

    At the moment everyone seems to be fighting desperately to go into opposition rather than government. None of the ‘Big Four’ Parties did really well: FG did worse than expected with 25.5% of first preferences (they’d been expecting low 30s at least); FF did a little better than expected, but at 24.3% they are still a shadow of their former selves and poor vote management means they are further behind FG in terms of seats than they ought to be; SF were hoping to make much greater gains in terms of votes (they only got 13.8% when they have been usually polling in the upper teens or more; Labour were destroyed (completely Lib Dem-ed you might say) and had their worst election since the 1920s.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/election-2016/

    Results are still coming in and some recounts have already been put off till tomorrow. My best guess at the totals are:

    FG 51

    FF 43

    Labour 7

    SF 23

    Independents 22

    AAA-PBP 7

    SD 3

    Green 2

    But there’s a lot a guess-work there (Dublin Bay North is a particular mess with 7 leftish candidates fighting over 3 remaining seats and that’s before the court cases) and I’ve heard too many real experts call seats over the last two days and get it wrong.

  38. I’m surprised that no one has linked to the YG survey of over 80,000 people on their eurosceptic/europhile tendencies – and the resultant geographical distribution across GB.

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/02/28/eurosceptic-map-britain/

    It contains an interactive map, which allows all those saying “everyone I know is …” to find out if they know lots of / very few people in their home area. :-)

  39. Roger Mexico

    How many of those Independents are members of the Independent Alliance? Is that known?

    I understand that the Alliance has few fixed principles, and will only impose a whip on confidence issues, so presumably could be a meaningful group in C&S negotiations.

  40. @Carfrew
    “Whereas here, they’re reducing the number of MPs and increasing the Lords (who aren’t elected). Which is a bit dismal for those into political polling.”

    Absolutely. The Lords should be elected, and be much smaller. If we’ve got to have an unelected second chamber, there’s an argument to say that it would be better to have just hereditaries than cronies of various political parties who often buy their seats.

  41. Given what the House of Lords does, I can’t see why it needs to be any bigger than about 200 members.

  42. Pete B

    “The Lords should be elected, and be much smaller”

    Agreed. I recommend the use of a 3 ft long Procrustean bed, to ensure that they are definitely smaller.:-)

  43. Well, Labour in Ireland did a LibDem, so they are the curse of Clegg

  44. @Hireton

    “And police commissioners and parish councils in England.”

    ——-

    Fair enough, but do we get much polling of parish councils?…

  45. @Pete B

    “there’s an argument to say that it would be better to have just hereditaries than cronies of various political parties who often buy their seats.”

    ———-

    Indeed. Another argument is that we should just pick peeps at random, like jury service…

  46. @ Old Nat

    There are four independent groupings:

    Independents – including former FG, FF and Labour members – 13

    Independents 4 Change – 3

    Independent Alliance – 4

    Workers and Unemployed Action – 1

    The Independents are the fourth largest block behind Sinn Fein, but there are still ten seats to be decided.

  47. @Candy @Andy Shadrack

    Andy has a point.

    Trump and Sanders both tap into a well of blue collar anger, disenchantment and resentment about the “political class” that politicians like Clinton, and the hierarchy of the Dems and Reps embody. There’s nothing HC can do about this. She can’t change who she is and suddenly become a radical, when she is every inch the classical modern (New) Democratic Third Way candidate.

    It’s simply a fact that all over the world large numbers of voters are drifting away from that kind of consensus, as it does not address the needs and aspirations of the blue collar demographics. The US is no different except it will probably take longer for it to lead to change. That it will is a matter of time.

    And it really doesn’t matter if HC does well in Southern States as there is no way the Dems will carry those states in the GE anyway. When’s the last time a Dem won South Carolina, or Texas? Or indeed any of the Dixie states? The Midwest is different as they tend to be bellweather states. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that comparatively few people vote in primaries anyway. And I mean really few. Perhaps 5% of the total electorate.

    HC will win the Dem nomination because of two critical factors (a) black voters trust the Clinton brand (largely because of Bill) more that any other. The SC Dem primary had 61% black voters, of which HC took over 80%, the vote among white voters was far more even; and (b) she’s spent years preparing for this. Sanders hasn’t. She’s built up networks in all states. She the preferred candidate of the Dem hierarchy in almost all those states.

    HC will also win the GE, not by much but she will, as she’ll have the outrageous fortune to run against someone who will pick up precious few votes from any minority demographic – very few Hispanics, Black voters, or any other kind of minority group will ever vote for Trump. And also she will be running against someone with even less overall popularity (nationwide) as her.

    But Andy’s points still stand – she’ll be an unpopular winner, as the change blue collar Democrars would like to see will not be witnessed under a HC Presidency. She’s probably be even more hawkish than Obama in foreign policy; and less ambitious than even Obama in social and economic change in domestic policy.
    In other words, she’ll win because she isn”t Trump and doesn’t frighten minority voters.

  48. RAF @
    ‘In other words, she’ll win because she isn”t Trump and doesn’t frighten minority voters.’

    I think you are right and would go even further. Trump has a very loyal following, a little like Nigel Farage, they will vote for him whatever he says or does. But many others, not just minority voters, despise him and will hold their noses and vote for some one who will stop him, even if it is not their first or even second choice.

  49. Morning folks, after a long weekend of political geekdom watching RTE’s coverage of the Irish election. And they’re still going! Every Irish election, I have a mixture of despair and pride at the sheer length and ridiculousness that is STV (particularly under the new boundaries). With the results at the moment, the Dublin Bay North count could still be going on when the next election is called…..

    Well, my predictions were a wee bit off in places. I had a feeling that FF and FG would be pretty close in votes, but I thought FG would be further ahead in seats because of transfers (actually, FG’s vote management was quite poor in this election, while FF in most cases maximised their seats). Describing the result as a political volcano is pushing it a bit though, since it was fairly obvious from the campaign polls (which definitely showed the trend of the election in the last week), that FG/Lab had no chance of an overall majority.

    So, what happens now? A FG/FF coalition is the numerically obvious choice (possibly under Richard Bruton?), while other combinations are difficult due to idealogical differences. The left parties will not support FG, and the combination of FF/Lab/SD/GP + independents looks a little bit unstable :) It’s also probably not realistic to consider the Independent Alliance or the AAA as genuine blocs within the Dail – the traditional parish-pump politics are still to be seen in Ireland!

    Does this mean anything for the long term? Maybe, maybe not IMHO. Irish voters, and particularly those in Dublin, are notoriously fickle, and if there’s a feeling that the newly-elected independents and new party candidates are not producing much for local areas, then they’ll be quickly turfed out! There does appear, however, to be a big vacancy for a centrist party which appeals to upper working-class and middle class voters in the Dublin commuter belt. However, under which umbrella this emerges is hard to know.

    One final point on the boundary reforms in the UK – does anyone know (or work it out!) how uneven the *current* boundaries are i.e. the standard deviation of the electorate? I know that the Isle of Wight and O&S are special case outliers (just the electorate, not the areas themselves!!!), but overall, will the new boundaries (or the 2012 ones for that matter) be significantly more even?

  50. P.S. Sorry one more point on the discussion of whether population or electorate should be used – my own (hopefully non-partisan) view is that a lot of the discrepancy would be solved by people having to register their address with the local council when they move, as is pretty much standard in many EU countries. There’s also no point in Labour (or any other party) whinging about IER – they should see it as an opportunity to encourage younger voters to register and perhaps pick up a few extra votes here and there!

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