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Elected representatives have elections grinding political discourse down to little more than polite and not-so-polite point-scoring

If you have been living in a cave for the past number of months you may not have noticed that our elected representatives have elections grinding political discourse down to little more than polite and not-so-polite point-scoring.

Candidates for the upcoming European election have now all declared, and full disclosure of our local government candidates won’t be far behind, and already the poster controversy is well under way.

Despite the commitment to keep election posters away from the Giro d'Italia route some have appeared; although one would hope these would be taken down before the lycra-clad racers roll at high speed along our highways and byways.

And, it seems that several candidates have had their election posters removed (which happens to be technically illegal in Norn Iron...). It's not clear whether they were removed by concerned citizens fed up with the sight of our politicians’ faces on each and every lamppost up and down the country.

Over the coming weeks, one thing is for certain, we will be weary of the arguments about who has the biggest policy in town; although whether we actually hear what those policies are over the name-calling is a moot point.

That is why we are delighted so many people, at the time of writing over 10,000, have taken part in the MyVote survey and the results are truly eyebrow raising. We’ll leave it to our friends in the Belfast Telegraph to report on the results, but it’s fair to say that if people voted along policy lines, rather than tribal, the outcome of the poll on May 22 would be very different…

However, voters beware...if you're not registered to vote you have a week to make sure your are registered to vote and can make your choices at the ballot box.

The European election – like the shadow council elections happening at the same time – uses the single transferable vote. What this means is that you have a single vote, and on that vote you pick candidates in terms of your preference. It's sort of like multiple choice at school...except you can pick more than one answer. You can fill in all the candidates in order of preference or you can pick just one or you can choose a selection.

The European election candidates who have thrown their proverbial hat in the ring so far are [in alphabetical order] Jim Allister (TUV), Martina Anderson (SF), Alex Attwood (SDLP), Mark Brotherston (Cons), Ross Brown (Green Party), Diane Dodds (DUP), Anna Lo (Alliance), Tina McKenzie (NI21), Jim Nicholson (UUP) and Henry Reilly (UKIP).

Victors last time out were Sinn Féin, elected on first count and the UUP and DUP who both got in on the the third count.

While many people will be keeping an eye on who gets elected, the pundits – including my team at Chambré Public Affairs – will be studying closely the 'share of the vote'. This means the percentage each party gets in the poll. From that pundits will try and determine how many seats each party are likely to gain in the forthcoming Westminster and Assembly elections.

These findings will determine how organisations will focus their efforts and resources to help shape future policy. For the individual voter, the share of vote may well determine how they vote in future, if they want to boost their chosen candidates chances.

We hope that over the coming weeks you won't be too bored by the electioneering, but if you do there's always the Giro d'Italia to watch while you ponder who you are going to give your votes to.

To take our MyVote survey, click here

Belfast Telegraph