I’ve not written about the local elections much, partly because Chris, Daithi and our new Fermanagh based blogger Victoria have been covering some of the detail for us. Also, that it is hard to take a reliable view unless exposed to local press.
It’s not helped by the lost of our democracy over the last two years. Its very hard to campaign in vacuum, or to prove the counterfactual of what might have happened had we had a government. Here’s my own weak example over the sale of Bombardier:
Vincent Kearney, now well ensconced at RTE’s Belfast office, has correctly argued that the results will be used by the parties to bolster their own positions going into the round of talks which are scheduled for next week.
In general the party’s strengths are roughly: Sinn Féin has the best GOTV machine; the DUP messages with deadly precision; the UUP’s greatest resilience remains at local level; the SDLP is finally focused on how to win; and Alliance are on a roll.
And of course we may see a small breakthrough for independents. A low turnout will suit the big parties and harm most others (with the possible exception of Alliance who may have a huge bonus to collect from their last couple of runs out.
A higher turnout might suggest that issues like Brexit (although the hiatus at Westminster has probably helped deaden that as an issue), abortion and even in light of the events of the last fortnight law and order are playing.
But without a Euro election on the same day, a lower poll is far more likely.
Even if the changes our team have predicted in a relatively small number selected DEAs, the overall effect may not mean much in terms of numbers, but I think we will begin to see a generational change in a cohort which can expect to push to become MLAs.
That’s if we ever get one back of course. Whomever you are going to vote for, remember as a citizen you cannot complain if you get the outcome you don’t want. Never leave it up to everyone else.
If you are out at the polling station, you should be able to find the turnout figures displayed publicly. If we get enough people to share theirs it will help us to track whether we are sitting above or below 2014.
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