Early election results points to voter dissatisfaction

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The council election votes across Northern Ireland will continue to be counted today.

As some of the early results showed yesterday, you can never fully know how the overall contest between the political parties has turned out until the last transfers have been tallied and the last of the councillors have been elected — the PR systems rewards those who attract some sympathy across parties.

It is already clear however that the political centre ground has performed strongly and that the two biggest parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, have avoided any significant decline or challenge to their position.

The long-term positions of the Ulster Unionist Party and SDLP remain uncertain. They clearly have not surged back in this election, and might have declined further — particularly, it seems, the UUP.

Northern Ireland tends not to have protest elections in the way the Great Britain does, in council and European and by elections, which are not seen as important as general elections. Perhaps this is a contest in which the Province has also gone for protest votes.

The electorate seems to be dissatisfied, but there is no single identifiable voting trend.

There will be a clear picture later today as to what has happened. In three weeks we will know the MEP results too. At that time, those who want Northern Ireland to work should work together regardless of those who do not.