Irish nationalist Sinn Fein wins historic victory in Northern Ireland elections

Sinn Féin beat the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in voting to elect 90 members of the territory’s National Assembly, winning the most seats, 27, and receiving the highest share of first-preference votes. This compares with 24 seats for the Democratic Unionist Party and 17 seats for the Alliance Party.

Vote counting was still in progress on Saturday, with 88 of the 90 seats counted, according to the Northern Ireland Electoral Office.

Sinn Fein is now in pole position to appoint a first minister for the first time. The party opposes Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom and supports the unification of Ireland.

“Preparations for constitutional change in Ireland must begin now,” Sinn Fein party chair Mary Lou MacDonald told CNN Friday night as results began to emerge. “We need to be aware of the fact that change is underway.

“It is my absolute determination that this change be entirely peaceful,” she added.

clause in Peace Accords of 1998signed with the British and Irish governments after decades of bloody conflict known as The Troubles, which demonstrated that a referendum on Irish unity could be held if it seemed likely that a majority of voters would support it.

That day remains elusive despite the results of Thursday’s vote. Sinn Fein’s emergence as the largest party in Northern Ireland may nonetheless force a conversation about the so-called border poll.

Sinn Fein was closely associated with the Irish Republican Army, which fought a bloody three-decade military campaign to end British rule and unify the island of Ireland, although the party has since positioned itself as a populist left-wing political party focused on social issues in the North. and south of the border.

The party is running in the British Parliament elections but not taking any seats it wins. She had previously strong show At the 2020 general election in the Republic of Ireland.

Her success in Thursday’s Northern Ireland poll was buoyed by a segment of the DUP, which has served as first minister since 2007 and has briefly backed Theresa May’s Conservative government in Westminster since 2017.

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