the republican party Sinn Fein -former political arm of the IRA- has won the elections of North Ireland, but he will not be able to govern if the unionists continue to withdraw from the Executive in protest at the Brexit Protocol, which harmonizes trade throughout the island. The non-aligned parties have increased their seats opening a new political horizon.
In Northern Ireland everything is turning out as the polls predicted and Sinn Féin (SF) glimpsed forty years ago when it chose to be the political arm of the IRA terrorist organization (Irish Republican Army) to quell violence in favor of political bargaining.
The republican party has been the winner of the elections on Thursday with 23 seats (allocated 78 of the 90 in the assembly), compared to 22 for the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and 15 for the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). .
The vice president of the SF and candidate for chief minister, Michelle O’Neill, never tired of repeating that it was a “historic day” and that a “new era in politics” was opening. With good reason, she alluded to the fact that a pro-Irish party has risen for the first time since the division of the island a century ago as the most voted for the autonomous government.
But the electoral victory comes up against an immediate obstacle, which is the refusal of the largest unionist party (pro-British) to share the Government if the Brexit Protocolwhich places the border between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) in the Irish Sea, that is, it commercially harmonizes the entire island as a unit.
As established by the 1998 Peace Agreement, the chief minister cannot hold office without the deputy, and both have the same powers, despite the title of principal and deputy. Without him DUP of second, there will be no SF of first, immediately.
Last Thursday’s elections have not only shaken the foundations between pro-British and pro-Irish, but have opened another gap with the rise of non-aligned parties. The APNIwhich has been trying to break political sectarianism since 1970, obtained 14 seats (in the previous legislature it had 7, awarded 69 of the 90), an upward trend, like that of the SF that has been increasing in recent years.
The APNI, like the republicans or pro-Irish, are in favor of the Brexit Protocol and were in favor of remaining in the EU in the referendum in which Northern Ireland voted by a majority (56%) to stay in the EU.
With a good part of the electoral results published, in the DUP (19 seats of the 69 awarded out of 90) they remained firm in the institutional boycott due to the tantrum with Brexit and enraged with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who blames Brussels for the Brexit protocol.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson demands “decisive action” from Johnson. However, from London they have been playing deaf for months. Donaldson argues that, according to studies by his party, the shopping basket costs 30% more in Northern Ireland because of the Brexit Protocol, a figure that other politicians dispute. Although the parties have focused their campaigns on the cost of living, public services and the economic crisis to reach the end of the month, the historical aspirations of the formations throb in the background.
The President of the SF and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament in Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald, has placed in “the framework of about five years” the period for a referendum on the reunification of Ireland, according to the BBC. An accelerated stage, compared to “the decade” that they anticipated in recent years.
Along with these forecasts by the Republicans, the unionists feel betrayed by the Government of Boris Johnson, arguing that the Brexit Protocol not only harms them economically, but also weakens the patriotic union of Northern Ireland with Great Britain.
The elections on Thursday May 5 in Northern Ireland have accentuated the shaking of the political parties that were the protagonists of the 1998 Peace Agreement. Those that 24 years ago were in the majority, are now in the minority, and vice versa.
In the pro-British camp, the then radical DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) has gained ground from the then moderate UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) while in the pro-Irish camp the former majority Social Democratic and Liberal Party (SDLP, architect of the pact) has been displaced by Sinn Féin as the majority pro-Irish formation.
An exchange of political forces filed since last Thursday by the increase of the non-aligned. The new situation will affect the rules of operation of the autonomous government, conceived, according to the Peace Agreements, in parties (or vote of laws) ordered in two traditional blocks that were defined by religion: Protestant or Catholic.
At the same time that they voted for a new Government in Northern Ireland, municipal elections were also held in Great Britain where the Conservative Party of Boris Johnson has received a strong setback. Tory losses have become gains shared by the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats, while in Scotland the Scottish National Party (SNP) is at the head of municipal power and recalls that this local vote is also a bet for a referendum on Scottish independence at the end of 2023.
Nicola Sturgeonleader of the SNP, affirms that he will not convene a consultation illegally or without the permission of London, but will take the legality to court.
For the new Labor leader, Keir Stammer, the results augur well for the future, however, they do not assure the keys to Downing Street in the next general election if the Labor vote continues to rise. Labor has won 65 councils, five more than they had previously, while the Tories have lost 10, remaining at 35 and the Liberals dominate 16, three more than they held in the previous legislature. Each one reads the figures in his own way; success or failure, or half. Sources: BBC; Sinn Féin press office; Irish Television; DUP press office; Wikipedia.