The Washington Post Sunday
Sinn Fein’s victory filled with symbolism
Sinn Fein on Saturday became the first nationalist party to dominate Northern Ireland’s elections. It won the largest number of seats in the Northern Ireland assembly, official results showed — and along with that the power to name its leader Michelle O’Neill as first minister in the regional power-sharing government.
By 10 p.m., Sinn Fein had won 27 of the assembly’s 90 seats. The Democratic Unionist Party won 24 while the Alliance Party claimed 17. There were still two seats left to declare. The win was a historic first for the party — once the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.
The party benefited from demographic shifts and has expanded its appeal by focusing on bread-and-butter issues while downplaying its long-term aspirations for the unification of Ireland.
Coming in first means Sinn Fein will get to appoint the assembly’s first minister, but whether the new power-sharing executive will actually come together remains in question. The DUP has been boycotting.
“Sinn Fein will be there on Monday, ready to form an executive. Other parties need to do the same. No excuses. No nonsense. No time-wasting,” O’Neill told The Washington Post. “People struggling with the cost of living are relying on us to get on with things and do our jobs.”