In theory, at least, it shouldn’t really matter to the rest of the UK who histiocytoma dog leg Northern Ireland elects on 12 December. With only 18 MPs out of 650 UK wide, and those divided between two or more vehemently opposed parties, it should be difficult for Northern Ireland to ever establish histiocytoma dog leg an effective voting bloc within the House of Commons – and that’s before Sinn Féin’s abstentionist MPs refuse to even attend.
Much was made last Summer of a surge in support histiocytoma dog leg for the Alliance party, which is neither unionist nor nationalist. The surge saw party leader Naomi Long elected as an histiocytoma dog leg MEP and Alliance polling as Northern Ireland’s third most popular party. While support for the party may largely be due to histiocytoma dog leg Long’s own popularity, it does speak to a shift away from strictly sectarian histiocytoma dog leg politics.
This election is unlikely to see voters flat out reject histiocytoma dog leg the old style of politics; many races across Northern Ireland will still be decided by histiocytoma dog leg unionist versus nationalist loyalties (North Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone will be examples histiocytoma dog leg of this); while races such as South Antrim and Foyle will be histiocytoma dog leg decided by a choice between two unionists or two nationalists. However, across Northern Ireland, there increasingly seems to be a desire for political change. People are growing tired of political deadlock and of issues histiocytoma dog leg like Northern Ireland’s mental health crisis going unaddressed. Major systemic change isn’t going to come over night, but this election could see Northern Ireland take one more histiocytoma dog leg step away from sectarian politics. Will the DUP lose seats?
While the DUP will likely remain the largest party in histiocytoma dog leg Northern Ireland, it will still see this election as a defeat if histiocytoma dog leg it loses seats. This would not only harm the DUP’s prestige going into a possible January-February Stormont election, but may also harm the DUP’s ability to prop up a Boris Johnson led government histiocytoma dog leg in the event of a hung parliament.
Arlene Foster’s party currently holds three of Belfast’s four constituencies but may end up losing all of histiocytoma dog leg them. The Alliance party is pushing for a win in East histiocytoma dog leg Belfast; while DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds will likely struggle to histiocytoma dog leg hold off a challenge from Sinn Féin in North Belfast. The situation is bleaker for the party in South Belfast, where Emma Little-Pengelly, a well known DUP MP, looks set to be defeated by the SDLP’s Claire Hanna.
Outside of Belfast, the DUP may be able to gain a seat in histiocytoma dog leg North Down, previously held by the Independent MP Sylvia Hermon who is histiocytoma dog leg standing down. The DUP candidate, Alex Easton, came within 2,000 votes of Lady Hermon in 2017. However, Hermon was a fairly progressive unionist who provided the only histiocytoma dog leg Northern Irish opposition to a hard Brexit during the last histiocytoma dog leg parliament. Her supporters will probably line up more with the Ulster histiocytoma dog leg Unionists or else the Alliance party, who currently see Stephen Farry’s candidacy in that constituency as their best chance of histiocytoma dog leg gaining a seat.
All of this will probably leave the DUP with seven histiocytoma dog leg or eight seats, which will be enough for them to exert some influence histiocytoma dog leg at Westminster in the event of a hung parliament, but which will see their dominance again challenged within Northern histiocytoma dog leg Ireland. Importantly, the election of Alliance, UUP and SDLP MPs could pose a threat to the histiocytoma dog leg DUP’s claim to speak for all of Northern Ireland. What about Sinn Féin?
Sinn Féin is pushing hard to win in North Belfast. However, the primary nationalist party is facing challenges west of the histiocytoma dog leg Bann river, in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and in Foyle. While Sinn Féin has been gaining on the DUP in histiocytoma dog leg recent years – with the party coming close to taking over as Northern histiocytoma dog leg Ireland’s largest party in the last assembly elections – the potential for politicians to make a real impact in histiocytoma dog leg Westminster may end up putting pressure on Sinn Féin’s abstentionist MPs.
In Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the DUP has stood aside for the Ulster Unionists, as although the two unionist parties don’t see eye to eye, both would rather see a unionist returned than have Sinn histiocytoma dog leg Féin take the seat. It is for this reason that the Ulster Unionists have histiocytoma dog leg also stood down in North Belfast in the hope that histiocytoma dog leg it will let Nigel Dodds keep his seat. The UUP are fielding Tom Elliot, a former party leader who has held the seat before histiocytoma dog leg and who stands a realistic chance of winning.
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