Don’t lose the will to live. In 24 days it’ll be all over – bar the counting. Actually, it’s the counting that’s the interesting bit.
We’re thinking of the European and local elections.
For many, debates and election broadcasts are a torture. People will suffer just like those who don’t like football when the World Cup is on TV.
Everyone suffers except a ‘micro-group,’ to coin a phrase, when cricket or the boat race is on. At least with the boat race, you can see who’s winning. With cricket, even if you’ve heard the score you still don’t know who’s winning!
This isn’t to encourage cynicism about elections. Democracy is our alternative to war and what could be more important than that? Some of the speeches at Easter commemorations were based on the notion that only armed struggle achieves change. That’s odd when it’s obvious that voting delivers even bigger and quicker change. Haven’t we seen that? Stormont today may be dysfunctional but at least it’s unrecognisable from the old Stormont. Our councils too are very different from the councils we had during the ‘ancien regime’ of unionist rule.
It’s the endless argy bargy on the airwaves that’s the tedious aspect of elections.
To short circuit the painful process, here are the (predicted) results of the European election. You won’t actually be able to cast your vote until Thursday, May 22. So, why not follow my predictions and back a winner?
Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson will top the poll and take the first seat. Bairbre de Brún did so for the party last time around.
Getting elected to the European Parliament could be a nice little earner. Apart from the hassle of travel, it could be a passport to five stress free years. It wouldn’t be difficult to get ‘lost’ in the huge and lucrative world of Brussels and Strasbourg until the starting gun is fired for the next race. That’s not a criticism anyone could fairly level at Martina Anderson. The remarkably committed Derry woman is an extraordinarily hard-worker by anyone’s standard.
The DUP’s Diane Dodds will take the second seat. If it weren’t for the intervention of the TUV’s Jim Allister, Diane could probably expect to finish ahead of Martina.
The UUP’s Jim Nicholson will take the third seat with the SDLP’s Alex Attwood and Alliance’s Anna Lo bringing up the rear.
Incidentally, it will be interesting to see if the flag protests inflict significant damage on the DUP and/or Alliance Parties.
The other poll on May 22 is much less predictable as many of the constituencies and the candidates have changed since the last time out. We’ll be electing people to 11 councils instead of the usual 26 but the new councils won’t take over from the old ones until next year. That gives plenty of time for new delays to emerge.
What we do know is that six of the new councils will have a unionist majority and four will have a nationalist majority. As with the last time out, Alliance will hold the balance of power in Belfast.
No one party is likely to end up in overall control of any council, so the parties within the Nationalist and Unionist blocs will have to co-operate with each other to make their majorities count.