In Northern Ireland currently, the following is happening:
- SF and the DUP are at their electoral peak. Both are in government and starting to look a bit grimy to those that didn't think they were grimy already. Both are gradually wilting under a welter of internal divisions and challenges from their ultras.
- Northern Ireland is going through a reorganisation. There are 26 councils in Northern Ireland. They will be narrowed down to 11 in the next few years. That means that a lot of councillors are going to retire soon
- Double (and even triple) mandates are becoming an electoral issue. Politicians holding more than one of the main elected offices - MLAs, councillors, MPs and MEP. They are becoming less acceptable to the public and can be expected to disappear soonish. So, more de facto resignations of one kind or another.
- Politicians who thrived on a highly divided society on the verge (!) of conflict are no longer finding life as easy. Yet more turf on the political Darwinist fire.
- New boundaries and electoral settlements mean that politicians are having to reach across communal and sectarian divides and look for second preference votes.
- Most of the parties are starting to acknowledge the all-Ireland dimension and are becoming a bit more post-modern in their understanding of sovereignty. The SDLP are actively exploring links to the Fianna Fáil - the largest party in the south. Old rigid assumptions are going out of the window.
And, bearing in mind the line that Bernard Crick trotted out earlier today - "that local government was the school of democracy" - Northern Ireland could be in the weird position of having the highest standard of political representation anywhere on these islands within the next decade. That would be a total reversal of the current situation.