2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The 2007 election to the Northern Ireland Assembly was held on Wednesday, 7 March 2007. It was the third election to take place since the devolved assembly was established in 1998. The election saw endorsement of the St Andrews Agreement and the two largest parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin, along with the Alliance Party, increase their support, with falls in support for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election
 2003 7 March 2007 2011 

All 108 seats to the Northern Ireland Assembly
55 seats needed for a majority
Turnout62.3% 0.7%
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Ian Paisley Gerry Adams Reg Empey
Party DUP Sinn Féin UUP
Leader since 30 September 1971 13 November 1983 24 June 2005
Leader's seat North Antrim Belfast West Belfast East
Last election 30 seats, 27.8% 24 seats, 23.5% 27 seats, 22.7%
Seats won 36 28 18
Seat change 6 4 9
Popular vote 207,721 180,573 103,145
Percentage 30.1% 26.2% 14.9%
Swing 4.4% 2.7% 7.8%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Mark Durkan David Ford John Barry
Party SDLP Alliance Green (NI)
Leader since 10 November 2001 6 October 2001 January 2003
Leader's seat Foyle South Antrim None
Last election 18 seats, 16.7% 6 seats, 3.7% 0 seat, 0.4%
Seats won 16 7 1
Seat change 2 1 1
Popular vote 105,164 36,139 11,985
Percentage 15.2% 5.2% 1.7%
Swing 1.8% 1.5% 1.3%

  Seventh party
Party PUP
Last election 1 seat, 1.2%
Seats won 1
Seat change
Popular vote 3,822
Percentage 0.6%
Swing 0.6%

Seats won by each party per constituency. Voters elect 6 assembly members from the 18 constituencies.

First Minister before election


First Minister after election

Ian Paisley


At the 2003 election the DUP became the largest party. As it opposed the Belfast Agreement, there was no prospect of the assembly voting for the First and deputy First Ministers. Therefore, the British Government did not restore power to the Assembly and the elected members never met. Instead there commenced a protracted series of negotiations. During these negotiations a legally separate assembly, known as The Assembly consisting of the members elected in 2003 was formed in May 2006[1] to enable the parties to negotiate and to prepare for government.

Eventually, in October 2006, the governments and the parties, including the DUP, made the St Andrews Agreement and a new transitional assembly came into effect on 24 November 2006.[2] The British government agreed to fresh elections and the transitional assembly was dissolved on 30 January 2007, after which campaigning began.[3]

The process

The election was conducted using the single transferable vote applied to six-seat constituencies, each of which corresponds to a UK parliamentary seat. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister were chosen by the largest parties from the two different political designations. Parties who won seats were then allocated places on the executive committee in proportion to their seats in the Assembly using the D'Hondt method.

The campaign

The major parties standing were the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) on the Unionist side, and Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) on the Nationalist side.

The largest cross-community party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, contested the election in 17 of 18 constituencies. Smaller parties also included the Progressive Unionist Party, the Green Party and the UK Unionist Party. Some independent Unionists also stood.

Among the other parties that stood, the Conservatives nominated nine and there were six candidates for the Workers' Party. Also there were four candidates for Make Politicians History and two for the Socialist Party. Six Republican Sinn Féin-aligned candidates also stood. As the party had chosen not to register as a political party with the electoral commission, the party name did not appear alongside its candidates on ballot papers.[4]

One of the key issues in the election was which two political parties would gain the largest number of Assembly seats. The St Andrews Agreement stated that the First Minister will be chosen from the largest party of the largest political designation and the Deputy First Minister from the largest party from the second largest political designation;[5] however, the actual legislation states that the largest party shall make the nomination regardless of designation.[6]


The DUP remained the largest party in the Assembly, making significant gains from the UUP.

Sinn Féin made gains from the SDLP and was the largest party among the Nationalists.

The only other Assembly Party to make gains was the liberal Alliance Party (winning seven seats, a gain of one), while the Progressive Unionist Party and independent health campaigner Dr Kieran Deeny retained their single seats, and were joined by the Green Party, which won its first Assembly seat, and increased its first preference votes fourfold from 2003.

The UK Unionist Party lost its representation in the Assembly. They had contested 12 seats, with Robert McCartney standing in six of them.[7]

Overall, Unionist parties were collectively down 4 seats, Nationalist parties were collectively up 2 seats, and others were up 2 seats.

The election was notable as it saw the first Chinese-born person to be elected to a parliamentary institution in Europe: Anna Lo of the Alliance Party.[8][9]

(in order of first preference vote)
Party Leader Candidates Seats Change from 2003
1st Pref Votes 1st Pref % Change from 2003
Executive seats
DUP Ian Paisley 46 36 +6 207,721 30.1 +4.4 5
Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 37 28 +4 180,573 26.2 +2.6 4
SDLP Mark Durkan 35 16 −2 105,164 15.2 −1.8 1
UUP Reg Empey 38 18 −9 103,145 14.9 −7.7 2
Alliance David Ford 18 7 +1 36,139 5.2 +1.5
Independent N/A 20 1 ±0 19,471 2.8 +1.9
Green (NI) John Barry[10] 13 1 +1 11,985 1.7 +1.3
UK Unionist Bob McCartney 13 0 −1 10,452 1.5 +0.7
PUP Dawn Purvis 3 1 ±0 3,822 0.6 −0.6
NI Conservatives David Cameron 9 0 3,457 0.5 +0.3
Republican Sinn Féin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 6 0 2,522 0.4 N/A
Socialist Environmental Goretti Horgan[11] 1 0 2,045 0.3 −0.1
UKIP Nigel Farage 1 0 1,229 0.2 N/A
Workers' Party John Lowry[12] 6 0 975 0.1 −0.1
People Before Profit Gordon Hewitt 1 0 774 0.1 N/A
Socialist Party Peter Hadden[13] 2 0 473 0.1 +0.1
Make Politicians History Ronnie Carroll 4 0 221 0.0 N/A
Labour Party NI Malachi Curran 1 0 123 0.0 N/A
Procapitalism Samuel Charles Smyth 1 0 22 0.0 N/A
  • Total valid poll 690,191. Electorate: 1,107,904; turnout: 62.31%.[14][15]
  • Party leaders listed are those who were registered with the Electoral Commission as of 07:00 on 7 March 2007.
The six candidates of Republican Sinn Féin, which did not register as a political party with the Electoral Commission, are included in some media reports as Independents. They themselves rejected this term, and, apart from one of its candidates who was described as an Independent, no description was used for its candidates on ballot papers.[16]
^ Includes post of First Minister
^ Includes post of Deputy First Minister

Votes summary

Popular vote
Sinn Féin
Ulster Unionist
United Kingdom Unionist
Progressive Unionist

Seats summary

Assembly seats
Sinn Féin
Ulster Unionist
Progressive Unionist

Executive Committee seats

Parties who won seats are allocated places on the Executive Committee using the D'Hondt method and under the St Andrews agreement the largest party gets the right to nominate the first minister and the largest party perceived to be from "the other side" nominates the deputy first minister. Despite the name these offices are in fact of equal right. Note that they are both ministers in the same department (Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister). Using this system, the executive appointed in 2007 was as follows:

First Minister   Ian Paisley[17]DUP
Deputy First Minister   Martin McGuinness[17]Sinn Féin
Enterprise, Trade and Investment   Nigel DoddsDUP
Finance & Personnel   Peter RobinsonDUP
Regional Development   Conor Murphy[18]Sinn Féin
Education   Caitríona Ruane[18]Sinn Féin
Employment and Learning   Sir Reg EmpeyUUP
Environment   Arlene FosterDUP
Culture, Arts & Leisure   Edwin PootsDUP
Health, Social Services & Public Safety   Michael McGimpseyUUP
Agriculture   Michelle Gildernew[18]Sinn Féin
Social Development   Margaret Ritchie[18]SDLP

There are two junior ministers in OFMDFM who are, at present, Jeffery Donaldson (DUP) and Gerry Kelly (SF). In April 2010, the Department of Justice was formed, being led by David Ford from the Alliance Party. This is the Alliance Party's first ministerial role.

Opinion polls

An opinion poll by Ipsos MORI, published in The Belfast Telegraph on 1 March 2007, reported the voting intentions of those who intended to vote and had decided which party to vote for:[19]

Party Percentage Actual Vote
DUP 25 30
Sinn Féin 22 26
SDLP 20 15
UUP 16 15
Alliance 9 5
Green (NI) 3 2
Conservative 1 0.5
UK Unionist 1 1.5
PUP 1 0.6
Independent 1 3

MLAs who lost their seats at the election

Notes: Berry and Ennis were originally elected as DUP candidates, Hyland was originally elected as a Sinn Féin candidate.

MLAs who stood down at the election

Patricia Lewsley stood down prior to the dissolution of the assembly

MLAs deselected by their party

As a sitting MLA, Norah Beare defected from the UUP to the DUP, and is therefore unselected rather than deselected

Following their de-selection, both Ennis and Hyland unsuccessfully sought election under the UKUP and independent labels respectively.

MLAs deceased since 2003 election

See also


  1. Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. "The Assembly – Main Page". Niassembly.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  2. Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office (14 March 2007). "Transitional Assembly – Main Page". Niassembly.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  3. "Date set for NI Assembly election". BBC News. 16 November 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  4. "Poll candidate line-up revealed". BBC News. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  5. "St Andrews Agreement 2006 Annex A". Archived from the original on 18 December 2007.: Paragraph 9 Practical changes to the operation of the institutions
  6. "Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 February 2007. 16C(C) (page 11) ".. nominating officer of the largest political party"
  7. "Many seats raise many eyebrows". BBC News. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  8. Sharrock, David (10 March 2007). "Blair urges Paisley and Sinn Féin now take your places in history". The Times. London. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  9. McDonald, Henry (11 February 2007). "Chinese candidate defies racist abuse". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  10. The Electoral Commission
  11. The Electoral Commission
  12. The Electoral Commission
  13. The Electoral Commission
  14. CAIN
  15. BBC News
  16. © The Fermanagh Herald – News Index
  17. "DUP and Sinn Féin in joint letter". BBC News Online. BBC. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  18. "Sinn Féin reveals ministerial jobs". BBC News Online. BBC. 4 April 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
  19. McAdam, Noel (1 March 2007). "Snapshot reveals the voters' mood". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2007.
  20. "Gay row 'difficult' for Alliance". BBC News. 10 December 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  21. "Endgame for Close after 33 years". BBC News. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  22. "IOL | SF MLA Dougan to step down". Breakingnews.iol.ie. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  23. "O'Loan to contest Assemby seat". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2007.
  24. "Lewsley to take up children's post/". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2007.
  25. "Sinn Féin: Philip McGuigan appointed to new role within Sinn Féin". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  26. uuptoday.org » Nesbitt to stand down from Elected Politics Archived 8 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  27. Sinn Féin: Sinn Féin MLA to concentrate on role as local Councillor Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  28. "Candidates hand in election forms". BBC News. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  29. "Welcome to the website of David Trimble MLA". Davidtrimble.org. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  30. BreakingNews.ie: Archives :2006-12-31 Archived 5 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  31. "MLA blasted by candidate over 'integrity'". Belfast Today. Retrieved 21 January 2011.[permanent dead link]
  32. McDonald, Henry (21 January 2007). "DUP rebels move to stop Agreement". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  33. "Dropped MLA wants policing debate". BBC News. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  34. "Sinn Féin drops second politician". BBC News. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  35. "PUP's Ervine has died in hospital". BBC News. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  36. "Death of Sinn Féin assembly man". BBC News. 25 September 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.