Summary: Nick McDermott explains the unique voting
system which will be used in the Stormont assembly and
Q&A: the Northern
By Nick McDermott
How is the Stormont assembly
The 108-member assembly is elected using the single
transferable vote (STV), a system of proportional representation.
Six members of the legislative assembly are elected from each of the
existing 18 Westminster parliamentary constituencies.
How does STV work?
a proportional representation system that allows voters to select
individual candidates rather than party lists. Voters rank the
candidates in order of preference. First-preference votes are the
first to be looked at. Votes are then transferred if necessary from
candidates who have either been comfortably elected or from those
already eliminated from the election.
How is the first minister
The first minister and the deputy first minister
are elected by the cross-community "parallel consent" voting
procedure. To be elected into office, the first minister and the
deputy require the support of 50% of registered nationalists and
unionists as well as a majority of the assembly.
first minister is deposed as leader of his party he or she does not
automatically cease to be head of the executive. The first minister
can only be deposed if a majority of nationalists support unionists
in removing him.
How is cross-party balance
Parallel consent voting forces unionists and
nationalists to nominate moderate candidates acceptable to at least
a majority of the other party's members in the assembly. Each side
has the power to veto an unacceptable hard-line candidate. In
effect, the rules ensure that a unionist and nationalist share the
top two positions.