Still early in the count, lots of transfers and recounts to go, but so far the overall vote has increased significantly in the regional election to the northern assembly at Stormont. Not only are we potentially looking at the highest local turnout for the body since the initial post-Good Friday Agreement election of 1998 but the best show by nationalism for several years. Sinn Féin will probably emerge the biggest winner for the nationalist community, especially in the Belfast constituencies, and a close second overall (there is an outside chance of SF passing their former power-sharing partner, the Democratic Unionist Party, in terms of MLAs though it remains unlikely). The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is performing below expectations while the People Before Profit Alliance (PBPA) is in trouble, losing support and at least one of their two MLAs. The SWP-BPBA’s pro-Breixt position has undoubtedly hurt the party though it will be loathe to admit it.
On the unionist side, because it really is two elections with tactical intra-community voting where suitable, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) contest is a fascinating one. Both parties have lost and gained votes, the DUP’s controversial MLA, Nelson McCausland, is in serious electoral trouble in North Belfast, while the UUP leader, Mike Nesbitt, has suffered a humiliating set-back in the first preference vote in Strangford. I will update this post later as things become clearer.
So far a good day for Ireland as a whole.