General election 2010: DUP rocked as Robinson loses seat

By Sabine Klensch

Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson has lost his seat in a major blow to his Democratic Unionist party.

Naomi Long took Belfast East in the first ever parliamentary gain for the new Alliance party.

Ms Long achieved 37.2% of the votes, ahead of Mr Robinson on 32.8%. Trevor Ringland from the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force came third with 21.2%.

It is not clear whether Mr Robinson’s personal scandal or a collapse in support for the DUP is responsible for the shock loss.

He had been embroiled in a scandal involving his wife and a 19-year-old in the early part of 2010, following which he temporarily stood aside from his position as first minister for six weeks.

This unexpected victory of the Alliance party in this formerly DUP held emphasizes how unpredictable this election is turning out.

After congratulating the winner Alliance party candidate Naomi Long, Mr Robinson said: “Of course there will be many people who will draw their own conclusions about the election result and they will draw their own conclusions about my defeat.

“From my own perspective I had indicated to people that I had not wanted to stand in this election. Some may say you should be careful what you wish for.”

He promised to continue in his role at first minister and added: “It is vital we do not go back to the bad old days of the past. We will continue to look positively at the future of Northern Ireland and we will continue to ensure the people of Northern Ireland have a better and brighter future.”