Despite losing the general election held on the same day, the Conservatives made strong gains at Labour's expense, providing some comfort to the party. Conservative leader Michael Howard resigned soon afterwards and was succeeded by David Cameron, who had a decent platform to build on in his challenge to lead the Conservatives to a general election victory; the party had increased its share of council seats and importantly its share of seats in parliament.
All seats were up for election in the 26 districts of Northern Ireland. The many parties and the use of the single transferable vote meant that most councils ended up in no overall control. The DUP gained majority control of three councils: Ards, Ballymena, and Castlereagh.