First results in Northern Ireland election

Published March 8th 2007 in
Ian Paisley's DUP have so far won seven seats, Sinn Fein has taken three and the SDLP and Alliance have one each. Full results are not expected until tomorrow.

Early indications are that turnout was high, with the 18 constituencies reporting an average turnout between 55 and 60 per cent, rising to 70 per cent in some areas.

Since 9am this morning, teams across six counting centres have been removing spoiled and invalid papers before the complex process of counting the votes gets underway.

Unlike Westminster elections, which use the first past the post system, Northern Ireland has been returning its 108 assembly members using the single transferable vote system.

An Ipsos-Mori poll before the election forecast the DUP to emerge as the dominant party, with 25 per cent support. Sinn Fein polled 22 per cent, followed by the SDLP with 20 per cent and UUP on 16 per cent.

The British and Irish government have given the assembly until March 26th to form a power sharing executive.

The assembly is expected to nominate the executive next Wednesday, with the DUP's Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuiness expected to emerge as first minister and deputy first minister.