I can only assume from the demeanour of DUP friends that this latest statement comes in reaction to wisdom distilled from the doorsteps…
“It is dangerous to advocate supporting candidates who are Pro-United Ireland above preferences for fellow unionists. The greater the number of nationalist MLAs elected the stronger the push will be for a Border Poll.”
She then goes on to point out that neither the SDLP nor the UUP had enough candidates in this election to supplant either the DUP (nor, as it happens Sinn Fein). As David pointed out, the research suggests such patterns are still marginal.
By stark contrast, The Guardian in its leading article in today’s paper is calling for broader pragmatism:
A renewed stand-off seems inevitable, which might in turn trigger renewed direct rule.
…a stand-off would also be avoided if Northern Ireland’s voters prized the peace process highly enough to vote for parties that were more flexible about wanting it to work. Both the nationalist SDLP and the once mighty Ulster Unionists should offer that option, as the Alliance party does.
All should encourage second preference voting across sectarian lines in the proportional representation system. It is time for this to happen. It would open an encouraging new chapter for Northern Ireland if it did.
If there’s a better alternative, then surely it’s down to the Fresh Start parties to prove it? As The Guardian also observes:
[Stasis] could be avoided if the two main parties – or the UK government – wanted to avoid it badly enough. The problem right now is that they don’t.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty