Election 97
 Belfast East

Old constituency Belfast East
Current MP Peter Robinson
DUP 92 18,437
Alliance 92 10,650
Conservative 92 3,314
Independent 92 2,256
Sinn Fein 92 679
Elected party Democratic Unionist
Belfast North

Robert Waller writes

In a city polarised from east to west, East Belfast is the heartland of Orange Protestant loyalism facing the stronghold of Catholic nationalism in West Belfast. Besides its urban core, the Boundary Commission (as with all the Belfast seats) has enlarged the constituency to include a swathe of suburbia.

It is difficult to predict the result in East Belfast, beyond the fact that the seat will most likely be won by a Unionist - but which one? The seat has been won in the last five elections by Peter Robinson of Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, one of the stronger Protestant opponents of the power-sharing scheme between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic - before then it had been held by the Ulster Unionists. Since then, the Official party has chosen not to oppose Robinson, who still faces strong opposition from the Alliance. Unless the Unionist pact breaks down, he should be a favourite to win again this time. It is worth noting, by the way, that the Conservative Party achieved one of their better showings in Northern Ireland in 1992 here, with 9 per cent of the vote.