1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election took place on Thursday, 25 June 1998. This was the first election to the new devolved Northern Ireland Assembly. Six members from each of Northern Ireland's eighteen Westminster Parliamentary constituencies were elected by single transferable vote, giving a total of 108 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election
← 1996 25 June 1998 2003 →

All 108 seats to the Northern Ireland Assembly
  First party Second party Third party
  David Trimble Washington D.C.jpg Nobel Peace prize winner John Hume 1998 from Wash. DC. (50184861292).jpg DrIanPaisley.jpg
Leader David Trimble John Hume Ian Paisley
Party Ulster Unionist SDLP DUP
Leader since 8 September 1995 28 November 1979 30 September 1971
Leader's seat Upper Bann Foyle North Antrim
Last election 30 seats, 24.2% 21 seats, 21.4% 24 seats, 18.8%
Seats won 28 24 20
Seat change Decrease2 Increase3 Decrease4
Popular vote 172,225 177,963 145,917
Percentage 21.3% 22.0% 18.5%
Swing Decrease2.9% Increase0.6% Decrease0.3%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Gerry Adams, 1997.jpg Official portrait of Lord Alderdice crop 2.jpg No image.png
Leader Gerry Adams John Alderdice Robert McCartney
Party Sinn Féin Alliance UK Unionist
Leader since 13 November 1983 3 October 1987 1995
Leader's seat Belfast West Belfast East North Down
Last election 17 seats, 15.5% 7 seats, 6.5% 3 seats, 3.7%
Seats won 18 6 5
Seat change Increase1 Decrease1 Increase2
Popular vote 142,858 52,636 36,541
Percentage 16.7% 5.6% 4.5%
Swing Increase1.2% Decrease0.9% Increase0.8%

  Seventh party Eighth party
  No image.png No image.png
Leader Hugh Smyth Monica McWilliams & Pearl Sagar
Party PUP NI Women's Coalition
Leader since 1979 1996
Leader's seat Ran in Belfast West (lost) Belfast South (McWilliams)
Ran in Belfast East (lost) (Sagar)
Last election 2 seats, 3.5% 2 seats, 1.0%
Seats won 2 2
Seat change Steady Steady
Popular vote 20,634 13,019
Percentage 2.6% 1.6%
Swing Decrease0.9% Increase0.6%

1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election.svg
Seats won by each party per constituency. Voters elect 6 assembly members from the 18 constituencies. Each constituency is shaded according to the combined first preference vote share of the largest party.

First Minister before election

New position

First Minister after election

David Trimble
Ulster Unionist


Social Democratic and Labour Party177,96321.96+0.624+3
Ulster Unionist Party172,22521.25-2.928-2
Democratic Unionist Party145,91718.01-0.820-4
Sinn Féin142,85817.63+2.218+1
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland52,6366.500.06-1
UK Unionist Party36,5414.51+0.85+2
Independent Unionist24,3393.00N/A3+3
Progressive Unionist Party20,6342.55-1.02
Northern Ireland Women's Coalition13,0191.61+0.62
Ulster Democratic Party8,6511.07-1.1-2
Labour Party of Northern Ireland2,7290.34N/A
Workers' Party (Ireland)1,9890.25-0.3
Northern Ireland Conservatives1,8350.23-0.3
Ulster Independence Movement1,2270.15-0.4
Natural Law Party8320.100.0
Socialist Party7890.10N/A
Green Party of Northern Ireland7100.09-0.4
Valid votes810,28698.39
Invalid/blank votes13,2481.61
Total votes823,534100.00
Registered voters/turnout1,178,55669.88
Result by constituencies
The result was (first preference votes only):[1]


Although the SDLP won the most first preference votes, the Ulster Unionists won the most seats in the Assembly. This has been attributed[citation needed] to several reasons, including:

  • Slightly different turnouts across the province, with the result that in the more staunchly unionist east fewer votes were required to elect an MLA than in the SDLP's heartlands in the west.
  • The Ulster Unionists proved better at "vote balancing" whereby in the rounds of transfers their candidates were less likely to be eliminated earlier on.
  • The Ulster Unionists proved better at attracting transfers from other parties (and due to the vote balancing mentioned above, were more likely to be in a position to benefit from this)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 1998". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2017.