Have we hit peak Alliance?

In an alternate universe somewhere, Naomi Long leads a triumphant triumvirate of Alliance MPs back to Westminster with Sorcha Eastwood taking Lagan Valley, Stephen Farry holding on to North Down and Naomi herself reclaiming East Belfast from the DUP.

But in this universe, that’s not what happened.

Alex Easton swept Stephen Farry aside with ease to reclaim North Down for Unionism in spite of controversies surrounding his election agent and competition from the UUP’s Tim Collins. Farry’s own vote total fell by about five thousand.

Gavin Robinson held East Belfast in spite of a stiff challenge from Naomi Long, surely a relief to the incumbent MP who otherwise would have been compelled to resign as DUP leader.

And while Lagan Valley fell to the Alliance party, that was due to a split Unionist vote and the very unique circumstances regarding the former leader Jeffrey Donaldson. It will surely be a top target for Unionism in the next election and if Unionism finds a candidate to coalesce around, odds are they will take it back handily.

Out of a potential three seats they were supposedly in with a shot on, Alliance took one, lost one and failed to take one. They stood still and from many perspectives, the circumstances for potential gains could not have been more fortuitous.

We also have to couple their results in the General Election with previous results in the local elections and the last Assembly elections. Whilst the Alliance party did well in both, most of their gains in those contests came in the Unionist constituencies east of the Bann with minor gains in Nationalist-dominated constituencies implying that they have limited opportunities for growth there.

This begs the obvious question, have we now reached peak Alliance? Have they reached every corner of the north receptive to their message? Because if they couldn’t make that breakthrough now, then when?

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