Brexit is pushing Northern Ireland more and more towards reunification with the Republic of Ireland. According to a recent poll, the independence party Sinn Féin is in the lead for the first time in the nation’s history, having badly digested Scotland as well as Britain’s divorce from the European Union. Northern Irish citizens will go to the polls on 5 May to renew the Belfast Parliament and the takeover portrays a new political situation, with a substantial electoral gap between the Nationalists and the Federalists, usually always being the first party. According to data collected by LucidTalk and published in Belfast TelegraphThe Catholic Freedom Party, led by Michelle O’Neill, has a 6 percentage point advantage over its main rival, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), securing 26% of the vote.
Sinn Féin is the main nationalist party of the Northern Ireland Assembly: Social Democrats and Republicans, it has always fought for Belfast’s independence from London and reunification with Dublin. It was long the political arm of the IRA, the Irish Revolutionary Army that carried out Catholic Republican independence claims with armed struggle until the Good Friday Agreements of 1998. Their candidates have always been present in British elections, but those who are elected refuse to sit on the benches of Westminster, not recognizing the power of London.
Under the historic agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed, Sinn Féin and the Dup (which is Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party, ie in favor of unification with the United Kingdom) are obliged to rule together in Belfast, the party With the Prime Minister expressed by the one who gets the most votes and the Vice Premier expressed by the other. But Dup has said he will not enter into other power-sharing agreements until the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the Brussels-London agreement that governs Belfast’s trade with the rest of Britain after Brexit.
In short, the Protocol requires that we do not go back to a “hard”, that is, the physical, border between Eyre and Northern Ireland (as acknowledged by the 1998 agreements). This implies that customs control between Ireland, which is part of the European Union, and the United Kingdom is moved to the Irish Sea coast: a destabilizing situation for the federalists, as it calls into question territorial continuity with the United Kingdom. Is. However, for the time being, protocol talks between British and European diplomats are stalled. According to some rumours, the London government is considering unilateral “remove” Despite warnings from the European Union that the parties to the Brexit agreement do not like them, such a gesture would mean a breach of the treaty signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself.
Going back to election projections, while it is true that 26% will mark a retreat for Nationalists compared to 27.9% in 2017, it is equally true that their federalist rivals have seen their support decline over the past year and a half . The DUP has had a majority relative to Stormont (Assembly House) since 2003. Five years ago, the DUP received 31%, while now, less than a week from the vote, it cannot exceed 20%, even though its leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said he was confident of another victory. Is. The picture is actually more complicated if we take into account that the Northern Irish voting system is proportional with dual preference: candidates collect more votes than those elected or removed, while receiving the probability of winning the last seats in multinational constituencies. can do.
According to several analysts, an institutional crisis is brewing on the horizon, as cohabitation resumes after a 3-year blockade following the last elections. For Robert Hayward, a member of the British House of Lords, there could be “serious constitutional implications” if power-sharing agreements at Stormont were to jump in the middle of an ongoing dispute with Brussels. While Sinn Féin is undermining the Dupe’s allegations of a referendum on Irish reunification to be proposed after a possible vote, O’Neill recently pointed out that Brexit has made many question Belfast’s place in the UK. have make. Vacation “He took us out of the EU and stole our European citizenship” in 2016.
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