Northern Ireland’s voting merry-go-round. Source: GZERO

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GZERO 28th October 2022

Northern Ireland’s voting merry-go-round

The country’s set for a snap election in December after political parties failed to elect a speaker and start forming a government in Northern Ireland before the Friday deadline. Since early May, the Democratic Unionist Party has been holding up the power-sharing agreement with Sinn Féin over the status of the Irish frontier. The UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU scrapped a physical border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state. That means Northern Ireland has to comply with some EU regulations for cross-border trade, which for the DUP undermines its position within the UK. Since the unionists are chummy with the UK’s ruling Conservative Party, unionists want London to step in. But newly minted PM Rishi Sunak has enough on his plate trying to rescue the British economy and hardly wants to pick a fight with Brussels. What’s next? The Northern Irish will go to the polls again, but regardless of how many seats the DUP and Sinn Féin win, these bitter enemies are required to share power under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Still, the longer the impasse continues, the louder the calls for post-Brexit Northern Ireland to ditch the UK will get.

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