The Assembly, Voting Intentions, and the Windsor Framework

The Institute of Irish Studies commissioned Social Market Research (SMR) to conduct a public opinion poll canvassing views on the structures of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), voting intentions, and the Windsor Framework.

The survey is based on a sample of 1001 adults in Northern Ireland aged 18+. The survey was conducted using an online panel methodology with the data weighted to be demographically representative of the Northern Ireland adult population.

Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd and 14th of March 2023 and in accordance with ISO20252. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95% Confidence Level

Voting Intentions

The survey asked respondents which party they would give their first preference vote to if an Assembly election was held tomorrow. The results indicate that party fortunes would not change dramatically.

  • Sinn Fein would remain the largest party, increasing its vote share by 1.6%
  • The DUP would remain the second largest party, increasing its vote share by 2.6%.
  • Alliance would remain in third position.

The Windsor Framework (WF)

The data presented on the WF follows a series of Institute surveys which have shown more consensus around the Protocol than assumed but herein we mark a more confident and positive unionist response. At times we observe unionists as more affirmative towards aspects of the WF than nationalists. This we assume is based upon a recognition among some nationalists, as the commentator Prof. Colin Harvey argued, of an agreement in red, white and blue gift paper.

  • Regarding ‘I oppose the Windsor Framework’ 16.9% of voters agreed, around a third neither agreed nor disagreed and 45% disagreed.
  • There is an interesting development in that nationalists were slightly more opposed to the WF (19.1%) than unionists (15.7%).
  • Regarding ‘unionist parties highlighting problems with the Protocol led to better outcomes’ there is significant agreement among DUP (73.0%) and UUP voters (64.7%).
  • A quarter of SF voters concurred (23.7%) with a higher share among SDLP supporters (39.1%). Disagreement among unionist, nationalist and neithers was 6.8%, 49.0% and 22.5% respectively

Download the full results of the Assembly, Voting Intentions, and the Windsor Framework poll [PDF 0.6MB]

Professor Peter Shirlow, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies, said:

"The survey regarding voting intentions was well within the margin of error and the outcome of the local council elections in May 2023. This provides confidence that the survey is representative of voter’s beliefs and how they feel about the Windsor Framework.

"Overall, we are entering a stalemate politically as we have also done demographically. Those who will determine a constitutional future are those who do not vote along constitutional lines. This is a stalemate, and it is probably the case that Northern Ireland’s place in the union is less secure but not at present insecure."     

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