I notice that sections of the media in Ireland are getting terribly excited about the outcome of last week’s council elections in North, seeing in the results a resurgence in the so-called centre ground of politics.
It is true that the Alliance Party saw its share of the vote rise from 6.7 per cent in 2014 to 11.5 per cent last week but the performance of the other Unionist and Nationalist parties was, with the exception of the OUP, not markedly different from the 2014 result.
The DUP’s share of the vote actually rose from 23.1 per cent to 24.1 per cent; the Official Unionists fell two points to 14.1 per cent while Sinn Fein’s share fell 0.9 per cent to 23.2 (doubtless thanks to the party’s dramatic fall in support in Derry).
That result robbed SF of it top position and placed the DUP once again at the forefront of electoral politics in the North.
These were changes at the margin and hardly the sort of seismic change that some sections of the media were expecting (hoping for?) in the wake of the Brexit crisis and the slaying of Lyra McKee.
Alliance’s success came largely at the expense of the Official Unionists which is not surprising since Alliance is really just a more polite version of that party. I saw one analysis, with which I would concur, that explained that shift in terms of Brexit fears (i.e. economic losses) rather than any yearning for a post-Lyra deal.
Sinn Fein’s performance in Derry was notably poor, resulting from widespread criticism of that party’s embrace of Tory economic policies, something that also explains the growth of dissident republicanism in the city.
Although that was not repeated in West Belfast, the success of of People Before Profit there as well as in Derry does bode ill for the Shinners. Expect a shift to the left from the party of principle.
Otherwise move on, not much to see here.