John Walsh: The centre-left needs an economic vision to match its political rhetoric

Getting into government will be one thing for parties like the Social Democrats and Sinn Féin - making a success of it will be quite another, as the fate of Nicola Sturgeon shows

Nicola Sturgeon on the campaign trail: her progressive, centre-left pedigree was not in doubt, but she was unable to articulate a coherent economic model

Last weekend, a poll for the Sunday Independent gave the first sign that Holly Cairns could be a potential game changer for the Social Democrats. The party’s popularity vaulted from 4 per cent to 9 per cent immediately following her elevation to leader.

All leaders need a range of attributes to succeed, but possibly the most important is timing. In many ways, the backdrop could not be more favourable for Cairns. Successive opinion polls suggest ...