Thursday, 25 March 2010

DUP clearing the decks for a hung parliament?

The DUP has launched its election slogan today. It has opted for a more upbeat tone of "Let's Keep Northern Ireland Moving Forward".
It was also announced at the event that:
"Any DUP assembly members who are elected to Westminster will give up their Stormont seats, with the exception of the party leader."
The UUPCon alliance was gearing up to use this as a key point of attack on the DUP so this announcement will have blunted that somewhat. Beyond the ducking and diving of the campaign it shows a seriousness about a hung parliament. A recent Hansard Society report highlighted the need for MPs to be in a position to commit more time to Westminster if this occurs:

"A hung parliament will require MPs to spend more time at Westminster than in recent parliaments. This may have implications for the balance struck by MPs between their local constituency and national parliamentary responsibilities."

If the DUP are to be credible partners then it needs to demonstrate it can deliver the votes when they are needed. It will also require the average Ulster voter's preference for the MP being more in the constituency than Westminster to more muted than normal.

For anyone interested in learning more about hung or coalition parliaments I'd recommend this excellent publication, No Overall Control.

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