The Sinn Fein move towards a unprecedented victory in the regional elections in North Ireland this Thursday. A historic victory confirmed by the polls. It would be the first time in 100 years, since the partition of the island, that the nationalist party, once political arm of the bloody IRA terrorist group, became the most voted force and its leader, Michelle O’Neill, in the main minister. The unionism Pro-British has been dominating the polls until now, ruling Northern Ireland politics, but the latest polls give the heirs of Gerry Adams a seven-point lead (26%) over the Ulster Democratic Party (19%), its main rival. The tactical vote, as well as that of the apathetic and undecided (17%), could, however, have the last word.
Around 1.2 million voters will have to choose the 90 seats that make up the Assembly of Stormont. The government structure to guarantee peace in the region is that of a shared power between the main nationalist force and the unionist. In the last election in 2017 the Ulster Democratic Party (DUP) won just one more seat than Sinn Féin. The unionist party lives low hours. Its current leader Jeffrey Donaldson, who is also a deputy in the Parliament of Westminster, was appointed last June in the position. He was the third leader in two months. In February it caused the fall of the regional government, which remains discontinued since then, an unpopular decision that may now turn against him.
Donaldson fiercely opposes the post-Brexit trade protocol, calls for its abolition and for the Irish Sea border to disappear as a requirement to return to the Stormont Executive. The DUP campaigned in favor of Brexit and against the sentiment of the majority of voters (56%). The government of Boris Johnson, unable to come up with a satisfactory solution, he returns to contemplating the possibility of carrying out unilateral changes in the agreement, which would light the fuse of a trade war with the European Unionwith catastrophic effects for the already battered British economy.
Sinn Féin, led by a young generation that has not been directly linked to the armed struggle, believes they can make the protocol work and has focused the campaign on the cost of living, health, employment and education, the issues that, according to the surveys, and in that order, most concern citizens. It has already successfully put the spotlight on these problems in the general elections in the south of the island in 2020. That result was also an earthquake. It was the most voted party in the Republic and only a coalition of the rest of the main formations prevented them from forming a government in Dublin.
A Republican victory in the North, warns the DUP, would pave the way for unification of the island, the final and inalienable objective of Sinn Féin, although far away for now. The unity of Ireland only occupies one page of the 17 of the electoral program of the nationalists, who prefer to present themselves as an inclusive and social force.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.