The nationalist Sinn Fin party won a historic victory in Northern Ireland on Saturday in favor of the reunification of Ireland, in front of the Unionists who have been in power for decades. It marks a ‘new era’ despite the risk of political paralysis.
This victory allows Sinn Fin, a former political showcase of the paramilitary group Irish Republican Army (IRA), to appoint a local prime minister for the first time in the province’s 100 – year history of Brexit tensions.
As the long count of ballots recorded in the ballot boxes on Thursday to determine the 90 elected members of the local assembly comes to an end, the final result gives Sinn Fin many more seats than its unionist rival, the DUP, loyal to the British crown. .
Michelle O’Neill, 45, leader of Sinn Fin in Northern Ireland, has vowed to overcome divisions, hailing us as ‘a very important moment of change’ as we enter a ‘new era’. ‘I will provide leadership that celebrates diversity, including all, ensuring the rights and equality of those who have been excluded, discriminated against or neglected in the past.’
In Belfast, Sinn Fin has won 27 of the 88 declared seats so far, 24 for the DUP, and the highest number of first-preference votes (29% vs. 21.3%).
The DUP, through its leader Jeffrey Donaldson, has already acknowledged that Sinn Fin is on the verge of becoming the new ruling party in the legislature.
According to the 1998 peace agreement, the government should be led jointly by nationalists and unionists.
But negotiations for the formation of a government promise to be difficult and risky paralysis, with unions refusing to join the government as long as post-Brexit customs restrictions remain in place, which in their opinion threatens the integrity of the United States. Kingdom. United.
“I want a government in Northern Ireland, but it must be based on a sustainable basis,” Mr Donaldson said, condemning the Northern Irish protocol “negotiated by London and the European Union for destroying the economy of the province” and its “political stability”. .
Edwin Boots, another party tenor, warned that the talks would take “weeks or even months if a little luck”, while Brandon Lewis, the British minister in charge of the province, is expected to arrive in Belfast soon.
‘People talked, and now our job is to show. I hope others will do the same, ”said Michelle O’Neill.
She called for a ‘healthy debate’ on the future of Northern Ireland, saying the new executive should prioritize tackling the rising cost of living, and after a campaign, she focused on social and social issues rather than constitutional issues.
In a statement, Brandon Lewis called on all parties to form a “fully functional” executive “as soon as possible”. Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin has emphasized that “all political parties and elected officials must serve the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland”.
Northern Ireland, marked by three decades of bloody unrest between Unionists and Republicans, and then the unrest caused by Brexit, returned to uncertainty in February with the resignation of Unionist Prime Minister Paul Givan. This automatically led to the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill.
“Sinn Fin’s success in exploiting the weakness of unionism does not represent a difference of opinion in favor of reunification in Northern Ireland,” analyzes AFP Katie Howard, a political scientist at Queen’s University in Belfast.
It focuses on the split in the union vote and the progress of the Centralist Alliance Party (17 seats).
Boris Johnson setback
Elsewhere in the UK, where local elections took place on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party suffered a major setback, weakening partygates and inflation. It lost hundreds of seats and a dozen councils to Labor and the Liberal Democrats.
Boris Johnson said he was determined to stay in power. But these bad results have left him vulnerable, worried about the 2024 legislative election and pushing deputies out of his camp to question the appropriateness of continuing to support him.
To be convinced, Boris Johnson will have to offer a “real action plan” that will reveal its priorities in parliament during the traditional throne speech on Tuesday, said Simon Asherwood, a political scientist at the Open University who was interviewed by the AFP.
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