A small political party entirely based in Northern Ireland that has been out of the spotlight for years could emerge as a decisive force in allowing the Conservative Party to form a majority in the House of Commons after Theresa May’s disastrous campaign result in the 2017 general election.
The Conservatives won 318 seats, eight short of a Commons majority of 326.
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won 10 seats and is therefore a strong contender for becoming a coalition partner for the Tories. Some will remember the DUP as the party led by firebrand unionist preacher Ian Paisley through the 1990s.
The party is now led by Arlene Foster, a lawyer whose father was shot in an IRA gun attack when she was a child.
The results from Northern Ireland in the Westminster election reflect a continuing shift in votes away from the moderates in Northern Ireland that have been crucial in helping to secure peace and power-sharing arrangements for Belfast over the past two decades.
Voters in Northern Ireland elect 18 MPs to Westminster. 10 seats went to the DUP, the more hardline of the mainstream Protestant parties, while another seven went to Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican party. Sinn Fein MPs, if elected, do not take their seats in the British parliament in a long-standing and continuing protest against British rule.
The moderate parties, the Irish nationalist SDLP and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)– which at one point was an official political partner of the British Conservatives — now have no seats in Westminster. They have been wiped out.
The SDLP lost three seats, all held by former party leaders. It was the party led by John Hume, who was instrumental in helping to broker the IRA ceasefires in the 1990s. Hume was also later a key player in the negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Another key player in that was David Trimble, the former UUP leader, who together with Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace in 1998 for their efforts on the Good Friday Agreement. The UUP lost its two seats.
Theresa May is reported to be speaking with advisors on how to form a government. The DUP will surely be among her considerations.
You can follow live updates on the election fallout here.
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