The election of 7 March 2007 took place in somewhat different circumstances from the previous one, following on from the deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein. Seeking a mandate for that deal, the DUP and Sinn Fein were very successful, securing the top two spots by a distance.
On the Unionist side, the Ulster Unionists (now led by Sir Reg Empey) were the big losers – seeing a third of their first preference vote share and seats disappear. The DUP was the main beneficiary, as other Unionists were reduced to a single seat (Dawn Purvis). Unionism in general lost seats, however – 55 was a bare majority.
On the Nationalist side, Sinn Fein’s gains were not quite so stark but created clear distance between it and the SDLP. Despite Nationalism’s haul of 44 seats collectively, the latter was reduced to just one Executive seat (having been the largest party in terms of vote share under a decade previously).
There was a notable rise in support for “other” parties, with the Greens picking up their first Assembly seat and independent Kieran Deeny holding on. The Alliance Party also picked up an extra seat – notable, because in Anna Lo, it provided the first ever ethnic Chinese legislator in British or Irish electoral history.