As you were, then..

On the Politics Show today the Belfast Telegraph columnist Ed Curran and the Irish News editor Noel Doran discussed the turnout in the EU election and the anticipated results. Whilst most focus has/will be on the apparent volatility of the DUP support, Noel Doran points out that within nationalism, the message from the electorate is, “As you were”. Remarkably so compared to the last EU election, if the UCUNF tallies noted by Mark Devenport are to be believed – although, if rumours of a differential in turnout were true, those percentages [for Sinn Féin and the SDLP] would have been expected to be higher still. [Adds actual figures here, “Sinn Fein’s vote is down 0.3% on the last European poll in 2004; the Conservatives and Unionists are up 0.5%; the SDLP has increased its vote by 0.3% and the Green Party is up 2.4%.”] For Sinn Féin, despite the public reaction against the Irish government parties, the message in the local elections there is the same [7.4% (-0.7% on 2004)].

A notable exception for Sinn Féin, according to RTÉ’s figures, was the result in Dublin City Council [-5.8%] – despite being the attention of the majority of the party’s resources.

Back in Northern Ireland, once the actual results for the European seats are announced tomorrow the focus will be on how the parties react.

Already there has been idle talk of a threat to the stability of the NI Executive/Assembly. But, as Brian has argued, irrelevance is the greater risk.

Such a threat would require at least one of the parties within the NI Executive gambling that they could walk away, cause a collapse of the political institutions – which would not necessarily be inevitable – and not take the blame.

The suggestion has been that the devolution of policing and justice powers would be the issue responsible.

But all the relevant parties are now agreed on the process which would lead to the devolution of those powers.

One of the now accepted objectives of that process being confidence within the community – as well as confidence within the NI Assembly.

So the questions to be asked are,

How will/should the DUP interpret any sizeable vote for Jim Allister in terms of confidence within the community?

What other issues will re-emerge?

Will Sinn Féin really attempt to take the ball from the pitch again?

And have the foot-soldiers been fully informed this time..

Adds Also in Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald’s vote dropped by 2.5%. Conor Ryan in the Irish Examiner.

This time its [Sinn Féin] share of the vote nationally dropped slightly and, while it made gains in some areas, its support is more fragmented than ever. This will create difficulties when it tries to contest Dáil elections.