#AE22: 10 Hot Takes

09 May 2022 - by Gráinne Walsh

By now we have all seen the results from the 2022 Assembly election. The outcome of Sinn Féin securing the most seats, a first for a nationalist party in Northern Ireland, has been described as "seismic and historic" by some commentators. We take a look at the key takeaways from #AE22

1. For an election campaign that was billed “dull” by some, the results were anything but. With 9 new MLAs on the Alliance benches, and the prospect of a power sharing Executive that is reduced from five parties to four, the SDLP will not qualify for a seat at the table.

2. An increase in those designating as “other” from 11 to 18, not to mention the symbolic significance of Sinn Féin becoming the largest party, it is clear there is a recalibration of power across our political landscape.

3. Sinn Féin increased their first preference votes but didn’t gain any additional seats.

4. The middle ground is now yellow with the UUP and SDLP in the margins, while the Green Party fell victim to the Alliance surge.

5. In terms of designation, Nationalism took a greater hit than Unionism, losing four seats, taking them from 39 to 35.

6. Unionism, on the other hand, whilst having had a more difficult election, has not seen the same drop, moving from 40 to 37.

7. The DUP position on the Protocol and on Executive formation means that any negotiations will take time and may rely on an intervention by the UK and Irish Governments. Under new legislation, they have six months, and the clock is ticking.

8. But balanced with this is the clear fact that a majority of MLAs elected at the weekend support the Protocol and want to return to the Assembly to start delivering on the various promises they made on the doorsteps.

9. The uncomfortable truth for the DUP is that their demands can’t be addressed by any of their colleagues elected at the weekend. With a matter of days for Jeffrey Donaldson to decide if he stays in Westminster or moves to Stormont, all eyes will be on the UK government this week.

10. Next year's Local Government Election promises to be an interesting one.