Open the box! (Old catch-phrase, new Assembly)

Maybe it was the lack of gouge and head-butt during the campaign or the failure of the media to treat the election with half-decent attention. (RTÉ on its nine o’clock news bulletin the day before the election had an item on AV in Britain, nothing on the North.)  Either way, there’s a noticeable quickening of interest, now that the votes are in. Lots of breath-holding and teeth-gritting. This is the point where most  pundits back off and make vague sounds. However, as my critics will be happy to remind you, I’m good at making predictions, not too hot at getting them right. With that health warning,   here goes. 
The DUP will do less well than they’d like. They might even shed a seat or two. Overall, though, they’ll emerge as the biggest party. Considering Peter Robinson’s year, that’ll be some achievement.
Sinn Féin will do better  – they could pick up, on a good day, three or four seats. They’ll be well short of top party but if they hit or pass 30 seats the DUP will begin to twitch. 
The SDLP will do OK –  might even pick up a seat or two. People like Conal McDevitt are user-friendly enough to counteract the lead-weight that is Maggie Ritchie.
For the UUP it’s crunch time. They were in bad shape before Tom Elliott,  they look even flakier now. Melt-down is a real possibility.
Alliance will do OK but not  as well as they’d like to, given David Ford is Justice minister role and Naomi Long is in Westminster. 
The Greens? Forget it.  The positive tide the Shinners will get from their southern success will turn into a dirty, choking backwash for the Greens.
 I’ll be watching in particular Oliver McMullan  in East Antrim,  Sinn Féin generally in North Belfast,  whether  Fred Cobain gets choked to electoral death in said constituency,  my native West Tyrone where Barry McElduff could give lessons to a bag of weasels (that’s a compliment, Barry – some of my best friends are weasels). Oh  and South Belfast, to see if Sinn Féin can  do some real building work in a middle-class constituency.
The council elections? No results until next week and a totally different can of, um, councillors. Sinn Féin will do very well and Balmoral will send Mairtin O Muilleoir back to the Dome of Delight.
Not all politics is boring.   
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