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Saturday, 24 January 2009

Under Pressure

The conventional narrative is that the DUP and Sinn Féin are the two political parties inexorably on the rise in NI politics. This is why they arguably are not...

The DUP has arguably never been under so much pressure. Now seen in an inextricably linked coalition with Sinn Féin, to the extent where they have to share a joint office, it is arguably an impossibly toxic position for much of their electoral power base to support. The DUP, however are stuck there. Despite being the largest political party, they are potentially the most vulnerable.

By the 2011 Assembly Elections a vote for the DUP will no longer be a vote against Sinn Féin, or a vote to keep Sinn Féin down or out. It simply cannot be if it means the two parties, returned the largest in their respective communities, will enter into coalition.

But, both the DUP and Sinn Féin have no other alternative coalition partners apart from each other. Their very extremism leaves them only with each other. Hence the opportunity for the centre ground - where a strategy developed on meaningful engagement and a sense of proper power sharing could once again appeal to the majority of the electorate.

For the first time in a while I can see the potential for a centre ground fight back at the next Assembly Election. With something akin to some sort of proper strategy from the SDLP and UUP in 2011, could it really prove to be that the DUP and Sinn Féin have reached their electoral peak in NI?

1 comment:

  1. Certainly it is hard for the DUP to get any bigger.

    Nationalism has something of a pattern generational change in its representation so on precendent Sinn Fein should be ok for a while yet.

    The analysis also overrelies on a negative stereotype of the DUP and its messages. For example its breakthrough in 2003 came about because of a successful blend of negative and positive messages so it is capable of producing a balanced message.

    "where a strategy developed on meaningful engagement and a sense of proper power sharing could once again appeal to the majority of the electorate."

    You overlook the centre's dismall failure to do just that when it had the opportunity.

    Also a centre-ground alternative has a stronger basis to commence from if it buys out of the present executive but are unwilling to do that especially the UUP.

    2016 is probably going to be the year for bigger shifts. The first full-blown non-troubles generation starting to vote combined with a fully-bedded down system of devolution.

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