Friday, April 29, 2005

David Trimble and the Catholic vote

Irish Voice:

Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble finds himself in the battle for his political life on May 5 against a Democratic Unionist candidate who is favored by bookmakers to replace him.

Last time out it was a close run thing with approximately 2,000 Catholic votes for Trimble making the difference in the end and ensuring his re-election.

This time there is no certainty at all that those Catholic votes will go Trimble’s way. If he loses Trimble can only bemoan the fact that his inability to reach out to moderate Catholics over the past few years may cost him dear.

Before the last Westminster election in 2001 Trimble was largely a sympathetic figure in the Nationalist community, an Ulster Unionist leader who had tried to break the mold.

These days, however, he is seen as someone who broke every promise he made to moderate Catholics, instead allowing the hardliners in his own party to push him to the extreme on every occasion.

If Trimble had stood up for the Good Friday Agreement he had signed on for, there seems little doubt that many more Catholics would now vote for him. The fact that he didn’t may end his political career.

Trimble will probably be able to find a few SDLP voters who will be foolish enough to vote for him. The question is whether there are enough of those voters to allow Trimble to keep his parliamentary seat.


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