No nationalist party, no Catholic, has governed in North Ireland in it century of existence of the provincefrom the island partition. That can change now if Sinn Féin is the most voted in the regional elections on Thursday as indicated by the still partial results. The great BBC analyst John Curtice has no doubt that the Republicans will succeed and it is also very likely that they will obtain the largest number of the 90 seats in the Belfast regional assembly.
Sinn Féin would reach 27% with these calculations, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 24%, the Alliance Party 16%, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 11%, the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) 8%, Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) 7%. The final results will be known this Saturday and if the forecasts are confirmed, the nationalists would have achieved a historic advance towards the future unity of Ireland. His victory would put a great Pressure in it Good Friday Agreement which in 1998 put end to the armed conflict in the British province.
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Sinn Féin was already the most voted force in the south of the island in the 2020 general elections. The party associated for decades with IRA terrorism has traveled a unstoppable rise at the polls. Little by little, they have been shedding the legacy of blood that made them outlaws for many voters. It has been a long road that began to give electoral benefits from the Peace Agreement almost 25 years ago, after a conflict what did it cost 3,500 lives. Immersed in the democratic game, the replacement of the leaders linked to the armed struggle was decisive. generational change Y image washing.
The current president, Mary Lou McDonaldwas relieved of the position in 2018 from Gerry Adams. This Dubliner 53 years old, mother of two children, grew up in a middle-class family, was educated in a private school, made her first and brief steps in politics with the Fianna Fáil and has never been linked to the IRA. Popular, intelligent, her own accent, very different from those of the hooded north or from Adams himself, when her true voice could be heard, she has made the Sinn Fein more acceptable.
With special pull between women and young peoplewhich did not live through the years of attacks and daily executions, has reconverted a marginal formation in the south into the left progressive alternativedumped into Social problemssuch as the shortage of social housing or health deficiencies, capable of standing up to the two great traditional parties.
In North Ireland, the party’s policy is more centrist, in search of new sympathizers, since in the nationalist community they have already covered the maximum quota. The Vice President of Sinn Féin is another woman Michelle O’Neill46 years old daughter of a former IRA prisoner, called to be the new main minister of autonomy. In the past she worked with Martin McGuinnessanother historical figure, now deceased, directly involved in the terrorist struggle, who later knew how to “recycle” himself as a politician, govern with the unionists and shake hands with the Queen of England.
The Sinn Fein operates with a rigid internal control, but when it comes to adapting its strategies to the search for new voters, it is quite malleable. It changes, evolves, adapts to the circumstances of the moment and the place. Some of his promises, sometimes populist, attract new generations. Factors such as the demographic increase of the nationalist population, predominantly Catholic, and the internal divisions in the unionist community favor him in Northern Ireland.
The difficulties and impact of breexit they can pave the way, according to O’Neill, towards the unity of the island and in this way “recover the European citizenship that has been stolen from us”. The holding a referendumwhich could be years away, is on Sinn Féin’s agenda and is “an integral part” of the Good Friday Agreement. “There has been a seismic change in society, particularly after frexit, which we opposed and it has been imposed on us,” O’Neill said this week, adding: “I think a lot of people are considering their constitutional position.”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.