Forty plus years in the political middle have made the Alliance party one of the most agile (which often irritates their opponents) of Northern Ireland’s political parties.
Overall not a huge amount has changed for them, although there’s something of a problem in East Belfast where the flag issue has alienated a lot of working class loyalists it previously had the support of.
One failure to elect was Duncan Morrow in the Botanic DEA of Belfast. But appears to have been more to do with a poor splitting exercise, something which the party is much less practised in that some of the larger ones.
The one thing they understand better than the larger parties languishing below is that under the current regime is that this is a game of micro fine margins.
Yesterday John Manley referred to Anna Lo as the ‘other nationalist candidate’. And despite a less than gruelling campaign trail (the Green party canvassed her twice in North Down and found her at home both times), she turned in the party’s best European return ever.
In the process with some smart candidate selection they got a couple of young Catholic candidates in of strong nationalist councillors. But the movement is too small to call a trend.
Patrick Clarke based in Dundrum got home, which could be a handy place from which to benefit from anything further erosion of the SDLP’s South Down base. Lo’s rise in the overall vote also means the party will have more micro loca data to figure paths forward in that area.
But that’s just it with the Alliance. The maintenance of a viable future is dependent its ability to respond quickly and intelligently to the rise and fall in the fortunes of other parties (another reason the other parties don’t like them).