BBC: Two, rather than four, main parties…

The BBC’s line is that there are now only two big parties, rather than four. Without doubt, some history was made on Wednesday, not least the collapse of Ulster Unionists. At 30% percent of the vote going to the DUP: it looks like three in the last UUP stronghold of North Down. On the Nationalist side, with a smart, focused and clever deployment of its considerable manpower Sinn Fein achieved what it arguably could not do through the media in the wake of the party’s annus horribilus of 2005: a significant victory (primarily though not exclusively) over the SDLP on an overall 2 percent shift of the vote from 2003.The SDLP’s Alban Maguinness struck a worrying note for party stalwarts, when he suggested that the campaign was good, that Durkan had provided good leadership and the campaign had been professional. Worrying, mostly because he was strangely silent on why his own performance had been so poor in North Belfast: 2,212 (7.4%) down from 3186 (13.26%). If Mitchel McLaughlin got egg on his face for calling Foyle badly wrong in 2005, the SDLP’s claims of having a good shout in Strangford and Newry and Armagh, leave serious questions over how well the party keeps its eye on the ball.

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