DUP MLA Gary Middleton says the unionist electorate is fearful a split vote on May 5 will jeopardise unionism’s one and only seat in Londonderry.
With an Assembly contest set between three unionist candidates, Mr Middleton, Julia Kee of the UUP, and Independent Maurice Devenney, for the first time since 2007, there is a real danger the highest polling unionist, may miss the cut this time out.
Mr Middleton is asking unionists to back him as the only candidate capable of keeping the unionist seat.
“Over many years the unionist people of Londonderry have expressed their concerns about splitting the unionist vote and putting the only unionist assembly seat in the Foyle constituency at risk,” warned Mr Middleton.
“Whatever opinions people may have there can be no disputing of the facts, at the most recent election [Westminster] less than twelve months ago I secured 4,573 votes for the DUP with the UUP securing 1,226 and UKIP 832. This was a total unionist vote of 6,631,” he said.
Mr Middleton warned against complacency come May.
With the quota at 5,863 and 5,550 in the 2007 and 2011 Assembly elections respectively, if this is replicated and the DUP and UUP candidates both equal recent performances in Foyle Assembly elections, it’s highly likely the top-polling unionist candidate will come in below that figure.
This could mean a nervous run-off for a seat.
“Whatever way the vote is analysed there is just over one quota available for unionists, we cannot afford to put that only unionist seat as risk. The upcoming assembly election on May 5 will not only be important for the Foyle constituency but could be significant in ensuring Arlene Foster is returned as First Minister of Northern Ireland. I would urge the unionist electorate to ensure that the only unionist seat in Londonderry is secured. I believe this can only be done by voting DUP on May 5,” said Mr Middleton.
Mr Middleton replaced former DUP MLA Maurice Devenney last April. He sat on the Health and Finance Committees during the outgoing mandate.