2022 Northern Ireland General Election

Article

May 21, 2022

The 2022 Northern Ireland General Elections are held on May 5, 2022 to renew the Northern Ireland Assembly which sits at Stormont Palace in Belfast and controls the bi-communal Northern Ireland Executive. As the DUP retreated, Republicans Sinn Féin came out on top, a first for an Irish nationalist party in Northern Ireland, which under past agreements gives it the right to nominate Michelle O'Neill, until here Deputy Prime Minister, in the post of Prime Minister.

Political landscape

Northern Ireland is a constituent nation of the United Kingdom benefiting from the devolution of certain powers. This political organization is inherited from the Good Friday Agreement adopted in 1998 which put an end to thirty years of conflict in Northern Ireland and terrorist violence by establishing a sharing of power. The unionist and nationalist tendencies which deeply divide Northern Ireland have resulted in the creation of a system sometimes called consociationalism. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, with similar powers, come from the two dominant parties, after the elections, the two camps. For this reason, Northern Irish political life is not structured into a parliamentary majority and opposition. The country has a permanent government of national unity. The Northern Irish executive is chosen by the Assembly, with each political party having a number of ministers proportional to its number of seats in the Assembly. The country remains a member of the United Kingdom by choice, and retains the right to leave if a majority of its citizens so wish.

Method of voting

The Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 provides for elections to be held every five years on the first Thursday in May. The last elections having taken place in 2017 in advance, the next election is organized five years later. The Northern Ireland Assembly is made up of 90 seats filled for five years by single transferable vote in eighteen constituencies of five seats each. This proportional electoral system aims to ensure fair representation of the various political currents. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister together lead the Northern Ireland Executive and have equal power.

Polls

Results

Analysis

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which had dominated since 2003, was weakened. Although co-leader of the Executive, he failed to prevent concessions from London in the application of Brexit in Ireland to such an extent that, to mark his disagreement, Prime Minister Paul Givan tendered his resignation just before the elections. He had replaced Arlene Foster, who also resigned and was challenged internally. Finally, the party now faces competition from the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) which has jumped after 15 years of existence to 7.6% of first preferences, an increase of 5.1 points compared with the fall of 6.7 points of the DUP. The DUP finally loses 3 seats and the first place giving right to the post of Prime Minister. Thus, although they do not increase their number of seats, the nationalists of Sinn Féin come out on top. This is a first in Northern Ireland. Moreover, the election was marked above all by the breakthrough of the Alliance liberals, who questioned the system of consociationalism (17 seats, +9). This party, which was the 5th for 40 years, finds itself 3rd because it overtakes the two moderate parties of the two communities, which both lose seats: the nationalist social democrats of the SDLP (8 seats, -4) and the UUP (9 seats, -1).

Notes and References

Notes

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