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Did anyone mention that there’s an election?

Election fever has still not hit the dancefloor of Northern Ireland’s streets, unlike the spinning machines across the Irish sea where party fever is being whipped up to a frenzy.

As Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg do their pied piper dances through the streets of England, Scotland and Wales, in Northern Ireland — like the recent weather — it’s been nothing short of a damp squib.

The Labour, Lib Dem and Tory spin machines are at full tilt while the London media has been close to hysteria ever since May 6 was confirmed as polling day.

In Northern Ireland, however, evidence of a General Election campaign is not always that easy to spot. There are hardly any posters of candidates up on lamp posts and not much sign of doors being knocked.

Campaign teams have started the exhausting business of doorstepping in a number of constituencies.

But posters for wannabe MPs are still a relatively rare site in the province.

Likewise, the Press releases from rival parties are reaching the news rooms at a trickle, rather than in waves.

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The fact that the election campaign was kicked off in Easter week is obviously relevant.

A sizeable number of people will be enjoying mini-breaks or relaxing at home, with their minds untroubled by thoughts of manifestos.

On the other hand, it is also Easter week across the water so that cannot be the only factor at play.

Another more depressing explanation is that parties and voters here do not expect a campaign that features vigorous debates on policy issues.

After all, there's plenty of time left to dust down the old messages and bring out the votes along traditional lines.

But one local party worker last night rejected any suggestion of a lacklustre start to the campaign in Northern Ireland.

“We should not be compared to the political and media bubble of London,” he said.

“I don't see any real difference between this campaign and any other in Northern Ireland.

“People are already working very hard on the campaign trail — in fact, some of us are feeling pretty exhausted.”


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