From a "dull" campaign to a "seismic and historic" result, here are 10 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. With 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, losing both Clare Bailey in South Belfast and Rachel Woods in North Down.
5. In terms of designation, Nationalism took a greater hit than Unionism, losing four seats, taking them from 39 to 35. Unionism, on the other hand, whilst having had a more difficult election, has not seen the same drop, moving from 40 to 37.
6. 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.
7. But balanced with this is the clear fact that a majority of MLAs elected at the weekend support the Protocol. They also want the Assembly to get up and running – there were a lot of promises made on the doorsteps that need to be delivered.
8. 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 Queen’s Speech and PMQs this week…and then Liz Truss?
9. With the announcement by the SDLP that they will not fill Nichola Mallon’s spot at the Executive table, the outgoing Speaker has indicated that under d’hondt rules, the Infrastructure ministry now falls to Sinn Féin.
10. Next year’s local government election promises to be an interesting one.
By Gránne Walsh, Director at Stratagem