Sinn Féin received the most votes in the Northern Ireland election after the first round, reports the BBC. The party in favor of the reunification of Ireland, with 29% of the vote, is well ahead of the second strongest party, the pro-British DUP, which obtained 21.3% of the vote.
In previous elections, the difference between the two parties was only 0.1%. What the current result means for the distribution of seats should become clear by Saturday at the latest, British media report.
Sinn Féin had long had close ties to the IRA, a movement which fought hard to join Ireland. Party leader Michelle O’Neill called the victory a “historic result” and said she would focus on the rising cost of living and health care.
If Sinn Féin did indeed become the biggest party, it would also be allowed to provide the Prime Minister and that would mean something of a political earthquake. Until now, the post of Prime Minister has always been occupied by parties favorable to maintaining the union with Great Britain and who do not want Northern Ireland to be part of Ireland.
The formation of a government could fail due to the ongoing Brexit dispute. The 1998 Good Friday Accords stipulate that the largest nationalist and unionist parties to have to collaborate. Failure to do so could cripple Northern Irish politics and create a constitutional crisis requiring the British government to intervene.
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