Do not stand in the way of forming a coalition

Sinn Fein member Michelle O’Neill poses for a selfie with Sinn Féin party leader Marie Lou MacDonald.AFP photo

Sinn Fein, the Catholic party seeking reunification with the rest of Ireland, has won a parliamentary election for the first time in its 101-year history. In doing so, it profited mainly from the divisions among the pro-British unionists. Previously the largest party, the DUP lost its votes to both the left-wing Liberal Alliance party and the traditional ultra-conservative unionist vote. The DUP has said it will boycott coalition building as long as the Brexit protocol remains in place.

cargo movement controls

Unionists hate the Protocol so much that it controls the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In addition to practical problems, it also causes emotional problems; British-oriented Protestants feel cut off from the motherland. During the campaign, they repeatedly stated that there would be no government as long as protocol remained.

Anticipating the Norwegian-Irish problems, Boris Johnson said last week that he would once again try to negotiate a settlement with the European Commission. If that fails, there is a possibility that London will ignore the protocol, arguing that Northern Ireland’s social order is in jeopardy. The European Commission can then take countermeasures, such as imposing trade tariffs.

Border Survey

Fear of Irish reunification also plays a role in the aversion to Protocol. Sinn Fein wants to organize a referendum on this topic. The so-called border poll was actually conducted in 1973, but then it was the Catholics who largely avoided the ballot box, so the result did not matter. British Prime Minister Lewis tempered expectations by noting that London was in no mood to accommodate Sinn Fein nationalists.

If you take a closer look at the results, you will see that the parties calling for reunification are still in the minority. In fact, their share decreased slightly. According to Lewis, there is no mandate for such a referendum. As Sinn Féin became the largest party, most seat gains went to the Alliance party, which is neither for nor against the reunification of Ireland. This party, which came in third, received votes from both Catholics and Protestants.

Meanwhile, the SNP in Scotland, another part of the United Kingdom where things are troublesome, has asserted its dominant position. Welsh nationalists lost the spotlight. The socialists were the biggest gainers in the principality.

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