Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2016
The next election to the Northern Ireland Assembly will occur on 5 May 2016, unless it is dissolved earlier.
Change of date
Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998, elections to the NI assembly were originally for a four-year term; thus there would have been an election due in May 2015, four years after the 2011 election. Following the introduction of the UK Fixed Term Parliaments Act, this date would have clashed with the 2015 UK General Election. The Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections were postponed for a year to 2016 to avoid this clash.
In May 2013, Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the next NI assembly election would be postponed to May 2016, and would be held at fixed intervals of 5 years thereafter. Section 7 of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 specifies that elections will be held on the first Thursday in May on the fifth (rather than fourth, as previously) calendar year following that in which its predecessor was elected.
End of dual mandate
The Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 also ends the practice of dual mandate, prohibiting someone being elected to the assembly who is also a member of the UK House of Commons or the Irish Dáil Éireann. At the time the Act was passed, there were three such dual-members: the DUP's Sammy Wilson (MP for East Antrim and MLA for East Antrim) and Gregory Campbell (MP for East Londonderry and MLA for East Londonderry) and the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell (MP for Belfast South and MLA for Belfast South).
MLAs not standing for Re Election
- Alasdair McDonnell (Social Democratic & Labour Party) - MLA for Belfast South
- Danny Kinahan (Ulster Unionist Party) - MLA for South Antrim
- Tom Elliot (Ulster Unionist Party) - MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone
- William Hay (Democratic Unionist Party) - MLA for Foyle
Elliot, Kinahan and McDonnell were all elected at the 2015 General Election to the House of Commons and to end "double jobbing" they resigned their Assembly seats in June 2015.
There are several circumstances in which the Assembly could be dissolved before the date scheduled by virtue of section 31(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
Under section 32 of the 1998 Act, the Assembly can be dissolved if a resolution to such an effect is passed by the Assembly, with support of 72 or more members.
Failure to elect the First or Deputy First Ministers
The Act provides that if the Assembly fails to elect either the First Minister or deputy First Minister within six weeks, an election is called. Since the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 this has involved the nomination to the posts by the largest party overall and the largest party in the designation which the largest party overall is not a member respectively.[clarification needed]
|Party||Designation||Seats won||Current seats|
|Democratic Unionist Party||Unionist||38||38|
|Ulster Unionist Party||Unionist||16||13|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||Nationalist||14||14|
|Alliance Party of Northern Ireland||Other||8||8|
|Green Party in Northern Ireland||Other||1||1|
|Traditional Unionist Voice||Unionist||1||1|
|Polling organisation/client||Sample size||DUP||SF||SDLP||UUP||All||Others|
|7 May 2015||General Election Results||718,512||26%||24%||13%||16%||8%||14%|
|22 May 2014||2014 Local Election Results||627,777||23%||24%||14%||16%||6%||17%|
|Sep 2013||Lucid Talk/Belfast Telegraph||N/A||29%||26%||14%||11%||10%||10%|
|2012||Life & Times[n 1]||N/A||27%||19%||21%||16%||13%||3%|
|5 May 2011||Assembly Election Results||661,736||29.3%||26.3%||13.9%||12.9%||7.7%||9.9%|
- Asked about political party support, not with reference to a specific election.
- Agenda NI - The new Northern Ireland Bill
- Government welcomes elections agreement - Gov.uk, 3 May 2011
- "Northern Ireland Assembly elections put back to 2016". BBC News Online. 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
- legislation.gov.uk Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014
- The new Northern Ireland Bill - Agenda NI, 2 September 2013