Northern Ireland Assembly Election, 2003

From Academic Kids

The second elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which at the time of the elections had been suspended for just over a year, were held on 26 November, 2003. Six members were elected by Single Transferable Vote from each of Northern Ireland's eighteen Westminster Parliamentary constituencies, giving a total of 108 MLAs, or Members of the Legislative Assembly. The elections were contested by 18 parties, and a number of independent candidates.

On the unionist side, the Democratic Unionist Party gained ten seats to become the largest party both in seats and votes. Despite slipping to third place in first preference votes the Ulster Unionist Party actually increased their vote slightly and only lost one seat.

(Shortly after the election three Ulster Unionist MLAs, Jeffrey Donaldson, Nora Beare and Arlene Foster, changed parties to join the Democratic Unionists.)

On the nationalist side, Sinn Féin saw a big increase in their vote, gaining six seats at the expense of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. The minor parties all saw a significant fall in their support. The Alliance Party managed to hold all six of its seats despite their vote almost halving, the Women's Coalition and Northern Ireland Unionist Party were wiped out, and the Progressive Unionist Party and UK Unionist Party had just one seat each.

The biggest surprise of the election came in West Tyrone with the election of the independent Dr. Kieran Deeney, campaigning on the single issue of hospital provision in Omagh.

Note: Several sitting MLAs stood under a different label to the one they had used in 1998. Some had failed to be selected by their parties to stand and so stood as independents, whilst others had changed parties during the course of the assembly. Most of these realignments occurred within the Unionist parties, with several defections between existing parties and two new parties being formed - the United Unionist Coalition (formed by the three MLAs elected as independent Unionists, though one later joined the Democratic Unionist Party) and the Northern Ireland Unionist Party (formed by four of the five MLAs elected as the UK Unionist Party, though one later left them, joined the Democratic Unionists for a period but contested the election as an independent Unionist). Neither the United Unionist Assembly Party nor the Northern Ireland Unionists won any seats in the 2003 election.

PartySeatsFirst Preference Votes
Number% of voteRank
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 30177 944 25.71
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 27156 931 22.73
Sinn Féin (SF) 24162 758 23.52
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 18117 547 17.04
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 625 372 3.75
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) 18 032 1.26
UK Unionist Party (UKUP) 15 700 0.828
Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) 05 785 0.837
Others131 9594.6

See also: Northern Ireland Assembly Election, 1998

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