|Candidate||Party||Votes||% Share||Quota||Stage Elected|
Despite taking longer to complete it's count than any other constituency, the count in East Belfast was one of the least interesting, with the destination of the first six seats having been fairly clear on the first count, and virtually certain by the second.
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson topped the poll with the almost two quotas - the highest share of the vote in Northern Ireland. He was however helped by the fact that all the party's literature in East Belfast asked voters to rank Robinson, Wilson and Vitty in order. This slightly bizarre vote management strategy may have backfired on the DUP had their vote held up better, however with 2.16 Quotas they never had a serious chance of three seats. Sammy Wilson got a very poor vote for such a high profile candidate, however a healthy 69% transfer from Peter Robinson meant he was never in trouble, and he was finally elected on Stage 12 after the elimination of Jim Rodgers. DUP loyalty was very good, with 81.6% of Robinson's votes staying within the DUP camp, and later in the count 76% of John Norris' eliminations passed on to Sammy Wilson. Castlereagh Councillor Norris made little impact on proceedings.
Robinson may have long term worries despite topping the poll - the DUP vote was down on the General Election and Forum election, and the combined DUP-UKUP vote was lower than the combined UUP-PUP vote, perhap heralding a tight battle at the next Westminster election.
Alliance's Lord Alderdice was also elected on the first count, exceeding the quota by almost 500 votes. However the Alliance vote was down by 2,000 from the General election, leaving them with little chance of 2 seats. Newcomer Richard Good polled 1000 first preferences, and was eventually runner-up to Ian Adamson, however he was never seriously in contention for a seat. Again had the Alliance vote held up better, poor vote management may have cost them a seat. Alderdice took around 85% of the Alliance vote for himself, and had a poor transfer rate to Good of just 65%.
The UUP ran three candidates, with realistically only two seats available at best, so the interest rested on which candidate(s) would be elected with. Strongly pro-Agreement Reg Empey and Ian Adamson were running alongside the ever media-friendly Councillor Jim Rodgers, who claimed to have spoiled his vote in the referendum. In the end the UUP had a good election, with 1.83 Quotas virtually guaranteeing them 2 seats. East Belfast UUP voters showed discernment in choosing who to vote for. Prominent talks negotiator Reg Empey cashed in on his high media profile and was just 500 votes short of a quota on the first count, while Adamson, who was Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1996-7, was clearly ahead of the pack with three fifths of a quota. Rogers however was punished for his Referendum indecision, with only 1025 first preferences - over 500 less than he received in Victoria electoral area in the 1997 City Council elections - and lost his deposit.
Despite his ambiguous stance on the Agreement, 69% of Rodgers' votes transferred to other pro-Agreement canidates, and when one takes into consideration 174.50 votes transferred to him directly from Peter Robinson on Stage 2, the rate was closer to 80%.
PUP chief negotiator David Ervine was another candidate with a high media profile. Despite a somewhat disappointing performance for the PUP across Northern Ireland, Ervine's personal vote was an excellent 5114, over 2000 votes up on the PUP Forum performance and by far the PUP's best performance in the country. Ervine also did extremely well in picking up loose transfers from a wide variety of sources, and was elected third on Stage 7. His running mate Dawn Purvis polled a very poor 271 votes, despite some attempts by the PUP organisation to 'divvy up' the area.
The SDLP had one of their best results in East Belfast in a long time, slightly up on last year's General Election and surprisingly managing to save their deposit with new candidate Peter Jones. This was a pattern repeated in other heavily Unionist constituencies.
Sinn Fein's vote was up slightly on last year, but they picked up very few transfers and were eliminated with only 34 more votes than they started with. SDLP and Alliance activists had been complaining that Sinn Fein had been telling votes in the constituency's one Nationalist stronghold of Short Strand to plump (ie mark one preference only) for the Sinn Fein candidate. Transfer figures would seem to bear this out as 55% of O'Donnell's votes went non-transferrable with both SDLP and Alliance in contention. In other constituencies in similar cirumstances, the non-transferrable rate was well under 10%!
The Women's Coalition polled their worst vote in Northern Ireland here, while the UDP, Worker's Party, Conservatives and Natural Law polled in line with their very poor national showing.
Lawrence John, a DJ in a Belfast disco will not be bringing his high-energy dance mixes to Stormont just yet, as he polled 15 votes for the 'Energy 106 Party', the worst of any candidate in Northern Ireland. However he did offer an excuse at the Count, where he turned up in a David Bowie style space suit. John claimed that he had taken a wrong turn at the Holywood Arches, and had postered Mars by accident!
The turnout at 66.6% was similar to the other Belfast constituencies. Despite being the highest turnout in East Belfast for some time, it was still 14% down on the previous month's Referendum figure.
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