So the SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell keeps his seat in the toughest battle of his political life. Like the UUP however, despite some vital signs of life outside the city, Alban Maguinness and Alex Attwood look like they walking the Green Mile towards the next Assembly elections.
Even if he topped the polled in south Belfast that second Assembly seat in South Belfast is up for grabs with consolidation by the DUP and Alliance. One seat for the SDLP in the city does not look unlikely on this showing.
The drop in SF’s vote in relative terms will provide them with little comfort, nor will the relative rise in the performance in Alliance and Unionist parties.
A healthy performance in their heartlands of South Down and Foyle too is unlikely to hide the stark reality that the SDLP is looking like a party without a sustainable mission.
The sheer lack of communication (or competitive instincts) has brought them to a very difficult pass. Having achieved many of the aims it set itself you have wonder whether it has any other purpose than providing nationalists with a theoretical alternative to Sinn Fein.
Indeed it’s beginning to look very like the old Nationalist party it once energetically replaced at the turn of the 70s. Just getting rid of yet another leader won’t end their woes. The promised entry of FF in 2019 (just four years away now) ought to concentrate minds.