The 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election was held on Thursday, 5 May 2016. It was the fifth election to take place since the devolved assembly was established in 1998. 1,281,595 individuals were registered to vote in the election (representing an increase of 5.9% compared to the previous Assembly election). Turnout in the 2016 Assembly election was 703,744 (54.9%), a decline of less than one percentage point from the previous Assembly Election in 2011, but down 15 percentage points from the first election to the Assembly held in 1998.
As in the 2007 and 2011 elections, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin won the most seats, with the DUP winning 38 and Sinn Féin winning 28 of the available 108 seats. The Ulster Unionist Party won 16 seats, the Social Democratic and Labour Party 12 and the Alliance 8, while two seats were won by the Green Party and People Before Profit. The Traditional Unionist Voice and an independent candidate each won one seat.
Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998, elections to the 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 Assembly election would be postponed to May 2016, and would be held at fixed intervals of five 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.
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 House of Commons or 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). Wilson and McDonnell resigned from the Assembly after being re-elected to the House of Commons in the 2015 election. Campbell, who was also re-elected as an MP, is retiring from the Assembly at this election.
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.
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 enactment of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006, the First Minister has been nominated by the largest party of the largest community designation, and the deputy First Minister has been nominated by the largest party in the second largest community designation ("Nationalist", "Unionist" or "Other").
It was proposed that after the May 2016 Election there be a reduction in the number of ministries and departments. The amendments were:
° The Department of Education remains the same.
Nominations opened on 30 March 2016 for the assembly election. A full list of candidates is available. The table below lists all of the nominated candidates.
The 2016 election was held using STV and 18 multi-seat districts, each electing 6 members.
Party affiliation of the six Assembly members returned by each constituency. The first column indicates the party of the Member of the House of Commons (MP) returned by the corresponding parliamentary constituency in the general election of 7 May 2015 (under the "first past the post" method).
(The constituencies are arranged here in rough geographical order around Lough Neagh from Antrim to Londonderry. To see them in alphabetical order, click the small square icon after "Constituency"; to restore this geographical order, click the icon after "No." at the left.)
Percentage of each constituency's first-preference votes. Four highest percentages in each constituency shaded; absolute majorities underlined. The constituencies are arranged in the geographic order described for the table above; click the icon next to "Constituency" to see them in alphabetical order.
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